Ethics

Should Physicians Ask Patients about Guns?

April 11, 2014
Should Physicians Ask Patients about Guns?

By Jennifer Zhu

Peer Reviewed

After the elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT in December 2012 that left 20 children and 6 adults dead, the country reacted as it had following the July 2012 movie theatre shooting in Aurora, CO, and the public meeting shooting involving Representative Gabrielle Giffords on January 11, 2011 in Tucson, AZ. Some called for tighter firearm safety laws, while others stood by the adage that “Guns don’t kill people,” and that this was no time to politicize a tragedy. The…

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School Fees Or Head CTs: Reflections For Ethical Clinical Practice

February 28, 2014
School Fees Or Head CTs: Reflections For Ethical Clinical Practice

By Steffen Haider, MD

Peer Reviewed

She was a thin, 4-year old girl brought to the Accident Centre by her mother for evaluation of new-onset bruising around the eyes after being an unseatbelted passenger in a motor vehicle crash three days earlier. She denied vomiting or having a headache, and her mother said that she had not been sleeping excessively or acting unusual. She was alert, ambulatory, and quiet but not in distress, without other injuries aside from bilateral periorbital ecchymoses not apparent at initial…

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Why Aren’t Patients Using Advance Directives?

October 23, 2013
Why Aren’t Patients Using Advance Directives?

By Abigail Maller, MD

Faculty Peer Reviewed

Advance directives are a means for patients to communicate their wishes regarding medical decisions to their families and health care professionals once they are unable to make these decisions themselves. These documents, together with the assignment of health care proxies, help avoid a discrepancy between what a patient wanted in terms of end-of-life care and the level of care that they end up receiving . These resources also prevent confusion and promote mutual understanding between providers and family…

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From The Archives: The Ethics of Electronic Health Records

June 21, 2012
From The Archives: The Ethics of Electronic Health Records

Please enjoy this post from the archives dated January 15, 2010

John J. Mercuri

Faculty peer reviewed

Introduction
The 111th Congress allocated $19 billion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 toward the creation of an electronic health record (EHR) for each person in the United States by 2014.(1) The recent debate over EHRs has focused largely on the economic, logistical, and political consequences of implementing such a system; however, the country should also contemplate the ethical ramifications of EHRs. Addressing these concerns…

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Ordinary yet Privileged Citizens Cannot Repeat the Mistakes of the Past.

June 14, 2012
Ordinary yet Privileged Citizens Cannot Repeat the Mistakes of the Past.

A Commentary By Antonella Surbone MD PhD FACP, Ethics Editor on the Article Bidil: The Future of Medicine or A Return to the Dark Past?

On April 18, 2012, President Barack Obama during his campaign was photographed on the bus that Rosa Park was riding on December 1, 1955 when she refused to give up her seat for a white passenger.

“I just sat there for a moment, President Obama said, and pondered the courage and tenacity that is part of our very recent…

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BiDil: The Future of Medicine or a Return to a Dark Past?

May 31, 2012
BiDil: The Future of Medicine or a Return to a Dark Past?

By Christopher David Velez, MD

Faculty Peer Reviewed

Given the traumatic and often criminal role that medicine and the larger scientific community played in some of the most shameful acts of the 20th century, it is natural that the consequences of these collaborations have continued to reverberate to the present day. The chills sent down our spines can be sparked from reading treatises purporting to demonstrate the undeniable genetic evidence of racial superiority, or from the revulsion towards the degrees of complicity needed for the…

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The Placebo Effect: Can Understanding Its Role Improve Patient Care?

May 4, 2012
The Placebo Effect: Can Understanding Its Role Improve Patient Care?

By Brian D. Clark

Faculty Peer Reviewed

The ability to critically assess the validity of a clinical trial is one of many important skills that a physician strives to develop. This skill helps guide clinical decision-making, and there are a number of things that we are trained to look for to help determine the validity of any given study. Right at the top of the list of factors that go into this appraisal is that of study design, with the randomized, placebo-controlled trial serving…

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In Sickness and In Health

April 20, 2012
In Sickness and In Health

By Xiao Jing Wang

Faculty Peer Reviewed

ML is from Fu Zhou, China. She doesn’t speak much English and works in her family’s clothing store as a sales girl. ML is only one year older than I am. When ML was first diagnosed with lupus, about when I started my first year of college, she spent two months in the ICU with renal failure. ML had most of her bowel resected after developing mesenteric vasculitis. With a combination of lupus cerebritis, high dose steroids, and…

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Death, Be Not Proud: The Case for Organ Donation

January 27, 2012
Death, Be Not Proud: The Case for Organ Donation

By Tracie Lin

Faculty Peer Reviewed

DEATH, be not proud, though some have callèd thee

Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so;

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,

Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,

Rest of their bones, and soul’s deliverie.

Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate…

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Ethical Considerations on the Use of Fear in Public Health Campaigns

November 23, 2011
Ethical Considerations on the Use of Fear in Public Health Campaigns

By Ishmeal Bradley, MD

Faculty Peer Reviewed 

The goal of public health is to prevent or minimize disease and injury on a population level. How to achieve this end has changed over time, though. In previous decades, communicable diseases posed the greatest health risks. Consequently, public health officials used the tools of isolation, quarantine, and (forced) vaccination to combat these threats. Today, however, the major causes of morbidity and mortality are chronic conditions, many of which are thought to be due to lifestyle behaviors. Consider obesity,…

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Personal Responsibility and Medicine Today

October 13, 2011
Personal Responsibility and Medicine Today

By Ishmael Bradley, MD

In March 2010 President Barack Obama and the Democratic-led Congress passed the single largest change in the American health care industry since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) aims to drastically change the way that health care is delivered and financed. It partially draws upon the idea of personal responsibility and its role in promoting individual health. Some states, notably Tennessee and Florida, had already tried similar approaches. Expanding upon these…

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Advance Directives: A Move in the Right Direction

September 16, 2011
Advance Directives: A Move in the Right Direction

By Sara-Megumi Naylor

Faculty Peer Reviewed

“Tell me…If you were ever unable to make your own decisions about your medical care, is there someone you would trust to make those decisions for you?”

There is silence.

But then a response. We discuss. I record.

Then I proceed.

“I want to know…Have you given any thought to the goals of your hospital stay? I want to know what’s important to you.”

The only audible sounds in the quiet hospital room are the shallow breaths…

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