Ethics

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 as …

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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 men,…

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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 …

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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 of my …

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Avastin and the Meaning of Evidence

September 9, 2011
Avastin and the Meaning of Evidence

By Antonella Surbone MD PhD and Jerome Lowenstein MD

The recent hearings at the Food and Drug Administration regarding the revocation of approval for the use of Avastin in the treatment of breast cancer bring into sharp focus several very important issues in medicine today.

The pharmaceutical industry, armed with powerful new tools for deciphering the signaling mechanisms and mutations responsible for the development and progression of malignancies, has developed new therapies for treating cancer and other malignancies. The cost of development of each …

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Does Medical School Erode Student Empathy?

August 10, 2011
Does Medical School Erode Student Empathy?

By Nandini Govil

Faculty Peer Reviewed

Empathy is an elusive concept, espoused by many as an integral component of effective doctoring. In the medical literature, empathy is defined as a physician’s ability to recognize and validate a patient’s experiences and perspectives,  and to convey this understanding back to the patient. A firm distinction is drawn between sympathy (an emotional attribute) and empathy (a cognitive skill that can be modeled, taught, and assessed).

Research indicates that physician empathy results in better patient compliance and  outcomes, and …

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