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Medical Tourism Booms

March 14, 2017

(Deutsche Welle) – Medical tourism has grown into a healthy travel sector as people shop beyond their borders for everything from dental work to plastic surgery. Thanks to the internet, a growing middle class, often from countries without high-quality healthcare, “know that there are treatments out there for them,” said Julie Munro, president of the Medical Travel Quality Alliance, which produces a ranking of the 10 best hospitals for medical tourists.

Fertility Treatment Failure May Harm Women’s Heart Health

March 14, 2017

(Medical News Today) – Fertility therapy failure may raise the risk of poor heart health for women, according to the results of a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Researchers found that women who did not become pregnant after undergoing gonadotropin-based fertility therapy – treatment often used in preparation for in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technologies – were at greater risk of heart failure and stroke than those whose fertility therapy was successful.

Old-Style Chemo Is Still a Mainstay in the Age of Targeted Cancer Therapy

March 14, 2017

(NPR) – Chemotherapy remains one of the mainstays of cancer treatment, but these harsh drugs are slowly being edged aside in medical research, as new treatments, like immunotherapy, grab the spotlight. Still, this is not the end of the road for chemotherapy. For one thing, doctors are coming to realize that some of these drugs are useful for more than just killing cancer cells.

New Antibiotic Combo Overcomes Drug-Resistant Bacteria

March 13, 2017

(Managed Care Magazine) – Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, have taken a significant step toward defeating antibiotic-resistant infections by combining two antibiotics that each block a different kind of drug-destroying enzyme secreted by bacteria. When combined, the antibiotics run interference for each other to fight infections. Now physicians have a new weapon to overcome one of the most pernicious infections caused by deadly bacteria endemic to hospitals, the scientists say.

End of ‘Conscience Clause’: Pharmacists Are Stripped of Their Right to Refuse Drugs on Religious Grounds

March 13, 2017

(Daily Mail) – Pharmacists will no longer be able to refuse to dispense contraception or certain drugs because of a moral objection. The so-called ‘conscience clause’ that allows them to refer a patient to a colleague has now been ruled incompatible with requirements that pharmacists deliver ‘person-centred care’. The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) says the new system means they will be required to ensure the treatment of their client ‘is not compromised because of personal values and beliefs’.

A Surrogate’s Plea to Keep Controversial Industry Alive as India Moves Toward Ban

March 13, 2017

(Australian Broadcasting Co) – Lakshmi Rajput does not see herself as exploited, but driving her willingness to bear someone else’s children is the desperate desire to save her own. “I need money because my son has a hole in his heart,” she says. The 24-year-old is bearing twins for a couple, from Kerala in India’s south. The pregnancy will earn her roughly $6,000. A doctor has told her that surgery to repair her two-year-old son Krishna’s heart will cost twice that much. Ms Rajput’s bind reflects the case for and against an industry thought to be worth about $3 billion a year.

Technology Could Redefine the Doctor-Patient Relationship

March 13, 2017

(The Guardian) – AI raises the prospect of making affordable healthcare accessible to all. According to the World Health Organisation, 400 million people do not have access to even the most basic medical services. Hundreds of millions more, including many in the world’s most advanced countries, cannot afford it. A key factor driving this is the worldwide shortage of clinical staff, which is getting worse as populations grow.

What Hospitals Waste

March 13, 2017

(ProPublica) – Just outside Portland, Maine, there’s a 15,000-square-foot warehouse that’s packed with reasons the U.S. health care system costs so much: Shelves climb floor to ceiling, stacked with tubs overflowing with unopened packages of syringes, diabetes supplies and shiny surgical instruments that run hundreds of dollars apiece. There are boxes of IV fluids and bags of ostomy supplies and kits with everything you’d need to perform an obstetrics surgery. This, however, isn’t a story of about the crippling price of medical supplies. This is about the high cost of medical supplies that hospitals throw away.

Neuroenhancement’s Mainstream Moment May Be Here

March 13, 2017

(Mescape) – Trying to lend our brains a little more power is as societally entrenched as a morning cup of coffee. Yet in recent years, the quest for new ways of achieving this has become considerably more intense. Led by a loose assortment of pharmacologic researchers, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, and an ad hoc community of layperson “biohackers” open to self-experimentation with their brain chemistry, the field of neuroenhancement (also known as cognitive enhancement, among other terms) is gaining a foothold in the public consciousness.

First Results of CRISPR Gene Editing of Normal Embryos Released

March 13, 2017

(New Scientist) – A team in China has corrected genetic mutations in at least some of the cells in three normal human embryos using the CRISPR genome editing technique. The latest study is the first to describe the results of using CRISPR in viable human embryos, New Scientist can reveal. While this study – which attempted to repair the DNA of six embryos in total – was very small, the results suggest CRISPR works much better in normal embryos than it did in previous tests on abnormal embryos that could not develop into children.

The World’s Oldest Population of Humans Is Pushing Back against Unethical Researchers

March 10, 2017

(Quartz) – For centuries the San, also controversially called the Bushmen, have been studied, measured, photographed and exploited. The traditional knowledge and culture of the world’s oldest population of humans has fascinated scientists, with little benefit to San themselves. They’ve finally had enough. The South African San Council launched a code of ethics to prevent intrusive and exploitative research in their communities. Launched in Cape Town earlier this month, the code was established in collaboration with the Trust Project, a global organization trying to empower vulnerable communities to protect themselves from double standards in the research fraternity.

Don’t Write Us Off: People with Dementia Press for More Rights–And Respect

March 10, 2017

(STAT News) – Mittler is determined to change that. He’s a prominent voice in Dementia Alliance International, a global organization run by and for people with dementia. Its leaders travel the world to promote its signature issue: human rights for people with cognitive impairments. At the most basic level, their demands boil down to this: Don’t write us off. Include us in conversations about our future, rather than making decisions for us. Help us participate in community activities, rather than locking us in institutions. Let us weigh in on public policy. Give us adequate care.

Robot That Shows Pain Could Teach Doctors to Recognise It Better

March 10, 2017

(Scientific American) – Can you recognise when someone is unwell just by studying their face? Understanding expressions can help doctors improve their diagnoses, but it’s a difficult skill to practise. So a group of engineers have made a tool for training clinicians: a robot that can express pain. Many doctors already use robotic patient simulators in their training to practise procedures and test their diagnostic abilities. “These robots can bleed, breathe and react to medication,” says Laurel Riek at the University of California, San Diego. “They are incredible, but there is a major design flaw – their face.”

The Fight to Legalize a Machine that Melts Flesh from Bone

March 10, 2017

(Wired) – Bio-Response, based in Danville, Indiana, specializes in building machines for liquid cremation, a fast, environmentally-friendly, and controversial method for disposing of the deceased. Only a handful of states have legalized the practice. The latest battle is taking place in Nevada, where yesterday the state’s legislature held a hearing to discuss AB205, a bill that would legalize the chemical dissolution of the dead. Liquid cremation’s biggest opponents are typically religious groups, who believe uninhabited corporeal vessels ought not be liquefied and sent spiraling down a drain. Which is a fair, if oversimplified interpretation, of how this process actually works.

Car Wars

March 10, 2017

(The Atlantic) – The stakes are impossibly high. Self-driving cars are arguably the great technological promise of the 21st century. They are in that rare class of technology that might actually change the world. And not just in the way everyone in Silicon Valley talks about changing the world—but really, fundamentally change it. So much so that their dramatic life-saving potential is almost secondary to the other economic, cultural, and aesthetic transformations they would cause.

Full Genomic Sequencing for Newborns Raises Questions

March 10, 2017

(Scientific American) – Many serious diseases that can be screened for at birth are not included in standard newborn genetic tests. Full genome sequencing of newborns for existing and potential disorders is now technologically possible and might soon be economically feasible. Scientists are exploring whether the resulting flood of genetic information will help parents and physicians care for newborns—or add unnecessary anxiety, complexity and cost.

Rookie Docs Can Work Longer, 24-Hour Shifts Under New Rules

March 10, 2017

(ABC News) – Rookie doctors can work up to 24 hours straight under new work limits taking effect this summer — a move supporters say will enhance training and foes maintain will do just the opposite. A Chicago-based group that establishes work standards for U.S. medical school graduates has voted to eliminate a 16-hour cap for first-year residents. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education announced the move Friday as part of revisions that include reinstating the longer limit for rookies — the same maximum allowed for advanced residents.

Doctors Find Patient Brain Activity Continued for 10 Minutes after Death

March 10, 2017

(Medical Xpress) – A team of doctors affiliated with the University of Western Ontario in Canada has documented a case in which a terminal patient removed from life support continued to experience brain wave activity for approximately 10 minutes after they had been pronounced clinically dead. In their paper published in The Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, the team describes the circumstances of the unusual event and acknowledge that they have no explanation for what they observed.

The Biotech Hall of Shame

March 10, 2017

(Managed Care Magazine) – FierceBiotech has issued its picks for 2016’s nine worst biotech companies. The list presents a sobering panorama of deaths in clinical trials, falling share prices wiping out value and confidence, deal-making blunders, epic fails, trillion-dollar opportunities lost, and fundamental technology falling short.

Researchers Take Big Step Forward in Nanotech-Based Drugs

March 10, 2017

(PhysOrg) – Nanotechnology has become a growing part of medical research in recent years, with scientists feverishly working to see if tiny particles could revolutionize the world of drug delivery. But many questions remain about how to effectively transport those particles and associated drugs to cells. In an article published today in Scientific Reports, FSU Associate Professor of Biological Science Steven Lenhert takes a step forward in the understanding of nanoparticles and how they can best be used to deliver drugs. After conducting a series of experiments, Lenhert and his colleagues found that it may be possible to boost the efficacy of medicine entering target cells via a nanoparticle.

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