When I Was Hungry, You Gave Me to Eat: The Dignity of Hand Feeding in Persons with Dementia

Preserving the dignity of those who inhabit Nursing Homes at the end of life—individuals frequently bearing the concurrent burden of dementia— is a critical feature of cultures that embrace compassion. In the United States, such persons comprise a demographic estimated at five million. One demanding aspect of care in this population is feeding. The ethical dilemma resides in the choice between hand feeding by staff or family versus feeding tubes. Hand feeding is adopted when it is comfortable and safe, that is, unaccompanied by aspiration; and although human intimacy integral to hand feeding would be preferable, feeding tubes have become de rigueur in contemporary medical practice. As Kenneth Ludmerer poignantly asked, might the efficiency in time and effort derived from feeding tubes, as well as their reimbursement as medical procedures, be the dynamic driving choice in this context?[1] Recent publications are noteworthy in this regard.

Podcast Episode: 
145

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome: An Update on Contemporary Reproductive Technology and Ethics

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Professionalism in Peril

Plenary Address from CBHD's 15th Annual Conference: Healthcare and the Common Good.

Healthcare: A Cultural Diagnosis

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Plenary Address from CBHD's 15th Annual Conference: Healthcare and the Common Good.
 

Healthcare in the United States: Strengths, Weaknesses & the Way Forward

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Plenary Address from CBHD's 15th Annual Conference: Healthcare and the Common Good.

Healthcare and the Common Good

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Plenary Address from CBHD's 15th Annual Conference: Healthcare and the Common Good.

What Has Healthcare Reform Got to Do with Ice Floes? The Déjà Vu of Rationing, the Elderly, and Social Valuation

For those whose worldview picture is framed by biblical anthropology, the recent tenor of the healthcare reform debate should come as no surprise. When Americans have been forced to ration healthcare in the past—e.g., the early dialysis era, organ transplantation—social valuation explicitly and implicitly crept into decision-making.[1] Unfortunately, contemporary discussion, once again, is openly engaging the same wrong-headed direction.

Podcast Episode: 
123

Grey Matters: Accelerated Thought in the Fast Lane

The quest for speed has increasingly driven the course of progress. The history of technology records remarkable innovations to advance the cause of speed in communication and travel in particular. Emerging neuropharmaceutical technologies now introduce the prospect of accelerating the speed of thought.

Podcast Episode: 
122

On the Permissibility of a DNR Order for Patient with Dismal Prognosis

Editor’s Note: The following consultation report is based on a real clinical dilemma that led to a request for an ethics consultation. Some details have been changed to preserve patient privacy. The goal of this column is to address ethical dilemmas faced by patients, families and healthcare professionals, offering careful analysis and recommendations that are consistent with biblical standards.

Podcast Episode: 
121

Biotechnology Meets Primetime TV

It is no secret that bioethical content has been the fodder for both film and television for quite some time. The mainstay of science fiction films for years has ranged from cyborgs (Bicentennial Man) and artificial intelligence (AI, I Robot) to bizarre human experimentation and research (The X-Files: I Want to Believe), such as genetic enhancement (GATTACA), organ farming (The Island), and cloning (The 6th Day) just to name a few more. Even the occasional drama has featured key bioethical dilemmas such as euthanasia (Million Dollar Baby) and just access to healthcare services (John Q) to the recent film depiction of savior siblings (My Sister’s Keeper).[1] The silver screen has accessed these issues for years. Similar ventures in primetime television have met varied success. Medical dramas have highlighted key issues raised in clinical medicine. Pick your show of choice: ER, Grey’s Anatomy, House, Private Practice,[2] or any of the numerous other medical dramas that have reigned in primetime television for years. The success of the medical drama is demonstrated through the proliferation of spinoffs and the creation of the genre of medical comedies as epitomized in Scrubs. Amidst the daytime plotlines of hypersexuality and human frailty, primetime viewers are exposed to such issues as informed consent, medical error, and the nature of the Hippocratic Oath. Not surprisingly these connections have been noted by savvy educators who use culture as one of the means by which they teach bioethics.

Podcast Episode: 
136

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