Late last year the New York Times reported that Dr. José Baselga, the chief medical officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, had resigned for failing to disclose his conflicts of interest at professional meetings and in scientific and medical journals. The Times report says that Dr. Baselga -- who also served as physician-in-chief at the center -- “had failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments from health care companies in ...

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The bedrock requirement to obtain informed consent before patients may be enrolled in research has been eroding. I’ve documented the different ways and different reasons for this several times over the years ("Informed Consent for Babies: When Experts Disagree," "Informed Consent in Infant Research: Ethical Problems Remain," "Informed Consent in Comparative Effectiveness Research," and "The Erosion of Informed ...

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In a recent post, I wrote about the iCOMPARE research study that is comparing the effects of increasing medical residents’ consecutive duty hours with observing the currently prescribed limits on their shifts. According to the study protocol, the primary hypothesis of the research addresses the safety of patients: that mortality under ...

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In my work as a bioethicist, I have very rarely taken an “absolutist” position regarding the use of a biomedical technology. But when I read an article titled “Chinese Scientists Edit Genes of Human Embryos, Raising Concerns,” my reaction was that this should not be done. I am not alone. The technique mentioned enables genes to be altered in every cell ...

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A new revelation has added to the ongoing controversy over the health risks of e-cigarettes. Some commentators have viewed the use of this electronic delivery system for nicotine as a way for smokers to cut down on tobacco cigarettes or quit the habit altogether. Others have contended that e-cigarettes can be a “gateway” to smoking and may actually increase ...

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The case of Cassandra C., a 17-year-old in Connecticut who refused to continue receiving chemotherapy to treat her Hodgkin’s lymphoma, poses a genuine ethical dilemma. The dilemma stems from a conflict between two leading ethical principles. One principle, respect for autonomy, calls for respecting individuals’ right to self-determination. In the medical context, that means allowing people to refuse medical treatment, even lifesaving therapy. The other ethical principle, beneficence, directs physicians and hospitals to ...

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As we learn of new suspected cases of Ebola infection in the United States, causing worries among the population and renewed efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to contain the epidemic. A student in the postgraduate course in research ethics that I teach at Albert Einstein College of Medicine recently asked whether we could discuss the Ebola epidemic in class. Because I had prepared the syllabus for the course months ago, I hadn’t ...

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Few medical interventions have been as successful as vaccines in improving public health. Whether they are childhood vaccinations, vaccines to prevent healthy adults from contracting influenza or the more recent HPV vaccine for adolescents, these preventive methods have resulted in dramatic benefits for individuals and the public. We have only to think of the eradication of smallpox and the virtual eradication of poliomyelitis to see the enormous benefits vaccines can bring. ...

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shutterstock_131198657 Doctors, hospitals and judges have over the years attempted to control the decisions of pregnant women. In a recent Florida case, it’s not clear whether the controllers sought to protect the fetus, the woman or both. They may have wanted to protect the hospital from potential liability. The case involved a 39-week-pregnant woman. According to a Read more...

A new study poses one of the most vexing ethical questions concerning research with human beings: When is it acceptable to conduct research without the consent of the research subject? In emergency situations, patients often arrive at the hospital unconscious or with severely impaired decision-making capacity. Progress in medical practice depends on results from carefully designed research; yet in these emergency cases such patients are unable to fulfill one of the ...

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