(Washington Post) – The Paraguayan child sexual assault case attracted international outrage: A 10-year-old girl’s stepfather allegedly raped and impregnated her, and officials denied her mother’s request for an abortion. When her story came to light in April, the girl was already 22 weeks pregnant. On Thursday, the now-11-year-old girl she gave birth at a Red Cross hospital in the capital city, according to numerous reports.
(The New Yorker) – Widespread blood transfusion, by contrast, is less than a century old. Yet it, too, was popularly adopted without rigorous testing of when, exactly, it benefitted patients. Just as early practitioners accepted the virtues of draining blood away, most mid-twentieth-century doctors took it on faith that infusing more was better. On a warm Saturday in April, however, more than a hundred Jehovah’s Witnesses gathered in the auditorium at Penn Hospital to learn about a program in bloodless medicine, in which patients choose to forego transfusion under all circumstances, and instead receive, in the course of their care, a range of treatments designed to build up their own red-blood-cell counts and painstakingly conserve as much of their blood as possible.
(The New Yorker) – After the war, donated blood became an integral part of Western medicine. Advances in care, including open-heart surgery, artificial kidney replacements, and trauma work “consumed huge amounts of blood,” Starr writes. Doctors also transfused patients to top off their hemoglobin levels following procedures like tonsillectomies, appendectomies, and even childbirth. Yet, in the thrall of wartime transfusion, blood had never been treated like an experimental drug and subjected to rigorous, randomized clinical trials assessing risk and benefit. Its power was intuitive. Doctors observed that patients with anemia seemed to feel better following transfusion.
Nursing Ethics (vol. 22, no. 3, 2015) is available online by subscription only.
- “Ethical decision-making in hospice care” by Andreas Walker and Christof Breitsameter
- “Limits to relational autonomy — The Singaporean experience” by Lalit Kumar Radha Krishna, Deborah S. Watkinson, and Ng Lee Beng
- “Among politicians, patients, and nurse leaders: What can a nurse ethicist contribute?” by Ann Gallagher
Bioethics (vol. 29, no. 6, 2015) is available online by subscription only.
- “Assisted gestation and transgender women” by Timothy F. Murphy
- “Valuing stillbirths” by John Phillips and Joseph Millum
- “Against harmful research on non-agreeing children” by Eric Chwang
(Nature) – A 1997 US law mandated the registry’s creation, requiring researchers from 2000 to record their trial methods and outcome measures before collecting data. The study found that in a sample of 55 large trials testing heart-disease treatments, 57% of those published before 2000 reported positive effects from the treatments. But that figure plunged to just 8% in studies that were conducted after 2000.
(Nature) – In what could be a legal first, two scientists who tried to prevent journals from retracting or expressing concerns about their papers have had their bids dismissed by US courts. In July, Guangwen Tang, a nutrition scientist at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, was denied in her attempt to stop the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition from retracting her 2012 study about genetically-engineered rice. Just five months earlier, Mário Saad, a medical researcher at the University of Campinas in São Paulo, Brazil, had been told by a court that he could not prevent the journal Diabetes from publishing expressions of concern about four of his papers.
(NEJM) – On July 13, 2015, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the military anticipates lifting its ban on service by transgender persons, those whose gender identity does not match the sex that they were assigned at birth. Although an estimated 12,800 transgender personnel currently serve in the U.S. armed forces they must conceal their gender identity because military policy bans them from serving and prohibits military doctors from providing transition-related care.
(Associated Press) – Most deaths from Legionnaires’ disease are tied to hospital and nursing home showers, not outdoor cooling towers, new government figures released Thursday show. Cooling towers are the focus of an investigation into a Legionnaires’ outbreak in New York City this summer that is one of the largest in U.S. history. Twelve people have died.
(Medical Xpress) – Statins’ success in reducing atherosclerosis-related events has elevated the medications to wonder-drug status, with some researchers advocating for their wider use as a preemptive therapy for cardiovascular disease. Using statins, however, can have side effects, including memory loss, muscle problems and increased diabetes risk. A new study in the American Journal of Physiology—Cell Physiology explains why statins are more beneficial in some cases than others and highlights the importance of weighing individual risk when considering statins as a preventive measure.
(Science) – Move over, poppies. In one of the most elaborate feats of synthetic biology to date, a research team has engineered yeast with a medley of plant, bacterial, and rodent genes to turn sugar into thebaine, the key opiate precursor to morphine and other powerful painkilling drugs that have been harvested for thousands of years from poppy plants. The team also showed that with further tweaks, the yeast could make hydrocodone, a widely used painkiller that is now made chemically from thebaine.
(The Guardian) – The anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress has released a sixth video alleging that Planned Parenthood affiliates improperly handled fetal tissue samples, part of an ongoing series of videos used as ammunition to defund the healthcare organization. But despite many hours of footage and troubling allegations, CMP has not offered proof of wrongdoing on Planned Parenthood’s part, prompting some bioethicists to call the videos a “Trojan horse” argument – claims that reveal more political slant than wrongdoing.
(The Epoch Times) – Members of the parliament of New South Wales in Australia were ordered by a Chinese diplomat not to attend a briefing on unethical organ trafficking on Aug. 11, leading David Shoebridge, a member of the Greens party in the NSW parliament, to declare it “an extraordinary and inappropriate intervention in Australian domestic politics by the Chinese government.”
(New York Times) – In a widely expected advance that has opened a fierce debate about “home-brewed heroin,” scientists at Stanford have created strains of yeast that can produce narcotic drugs. Until now, these drugs — known as opioids — have been derived only from the opium poppy. But the Stanford lab is one of several where researchers have been trying to find yeast-based alternatives. Their work is closely followed by pharmaceutical companies and by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation.
(Reuters) – The U.S. government has warned states moving to defund women’s health group Planned Parenthood that they may be in conflict with federal law, officials said on Wednesday. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a federal agency, was in contact with officials in Louisiana and Alabama this month, said a spokesperson for the agency’s parent, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
(NPR) – If you thought that professional video game competitions would be the one sport immune to a doping scandal, you’d be wrong. While it’s not exactly the hill stage of the Tour de France, video games require alertness and stamina. And when top-level Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player Cory “Semphis” Friesen acknowledged in a recent interview that he and his team “were all on Adderall,” a stimulant normally used to treat ADHD, during a recent tournament, the (gaming) authorities took notice.
(New York Times) – Religion was never discussed in my medical training. In medical school, a priest maintained a small lounge, providing coffee and tea, where students could sometimes drop in to get coffee, but that was wholly optional, and most students never did so. Yet studies have documented the importance of religion and spirituality to many patients. Seventy percent of dying patients want their doctor to ask them about their religious beliefs.
(Pro Publica) – Bruised by criticism after a reality TV show surreptitiously recorded and aired a man’s death, New York City hospitals will no longer allow patients to be filmed without getting prior consent. The Greater New York Hospital Association, an umbrella organization that represents all of New York City’s hospitals, has asked its member institutions to put an end to filming patients for entertainment purposes without getting their permission. The move came in response to an issue raised by a ProPublica story published with The New York Times earlier this year.
(Wired) – In an era of egg freezing cocktail parties, it’s easy to forget that cryopreservation is, well, a little lacking in the science department. Women in their 30s and 40s now freezing their eggs for future in vitro fertilization are essentially part of a great, ongoing science experiment. But that’s not the message you’d get from companies like Apple and Facebook offering $20,000 for their employees to freeze their eggs and delay having children.
(Eurekalert) – Simply put, cancer is caused by mutations to genes within a cell that lead to abnormal cell growth. Finding out what causes that genetic mutation has been the holy grail of medical science for decades. Researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Institute of Biosciences and Technology believe they may have found one of the reasons why these genes mutate and it all has to do with how stem cells talk to each other.