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Medical Ethics

Medical Ethics Medical Ethics ? Bioethics comprise every possible aspect of health care, medical, moral, social, political, religious, legal and financial? (Weiss 3). This includes the questions raised by new research. It takes a look at the results of that research that is used on patients. It takes into consideration contemporary ideas of personal freedom and human dignity. It deals with growth in medical services available in the United States and the sky rocketing cost. Bioethics also deals with the medical advances in technology that has reshaped traditional medical ethics.

Medical ethics have changed drastically over a period of years. From old commandments to new commandments, guidelines that provide structural framework, classic experiments that challenge that framework, or even how things are defined in medical ethics. ?Medical progress goes on, and the perils of progress must be heeded? (Leone 165). Changing times have in turn changed our codes of ethics. There are five old commandments of ethics and five new commandments of ethics. These commandments come from many years of heavily advised dictates from various people. A commandment by definition is, ? ..

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a dictate or a strongly advised piece of advice? (Halsey 201). The first traditional commandment is, ? Treat all human life as of equal worth? (Singer 190). This statement is very difficult to follow; almost no person believes this statement whole-heartedly. The statement makes more sense on paper or just being heard, but its application in life is almost impossible to ensure. In comparison to the first old ethic, the first new ethic states, ?Recognize that the worth of human life varies? (Singer 190).

This statement allows for variation and livability in society. It gives way for someone to say, if a person is a vegetable, has no vital capabilities, this person?s life is of no worth anymore. Without this sort of change in today?s advancing civilization, it would make it ethically wrong to ?pull the plug? (Rothstein 1698.) The next commandment of old ethics is, ? Never intentionally take innocent human life? (Singer 192). If a doctor or any health care professional just stood by during the birth of a child and both the child and the mother were dying, how could that doctor stand there and watch both the mother and the infant die without taking some method of action. However, if that physician were to save either patient while sacrificing the life of the other, that health care professional would be considered unethical and scorned by the standard of this ethical commandment.

In comparison, the new commandment states, ?Take responsibility for the consequences of your decisions?(Singer 195). By the token of this declaration a physician can make a choice based on his/her best judgment, yet; be held accountable for their actions. This gives a doctor the power to use his/her best judgment and knowledgeable skills, to do what they believe is best for the patient. This statement allows for a person?s right to free will, even a person who is a Christian may more fully agree with this statement just for the pure reason that they want to believe more in God?s promise of free will in their life. Commandment number four states,? Be fruitful and multiply? (Singer 198).

This biblical injunction has been a part of Christian ethics for thousands of years. ? Augustine said that sexual intercourse without procreation ` turns the bridal chamber into a brothel?? (Singer 198). Some laws in America concerning contraceptives survived until the mid- 1960?s when the Supreme Court declared them invasion of privacy (Madsen 325). The revised commandment number four, ?Bring children into the world only if they are wanted? (Singer 199), allows for population control as well as prevention of children who were never wanted and not loved. From 1930 when the population was two billion to today where the population is over five billion and is expected to rise above eleven billion by the middle of the next century. With these kinds of statistics revised dictates, such as this fourth one, are essential.

The final of these five old commandments state, ? Treat all human life as always more precious than any non-human life? (Singer 201). If we compare a severely defective human infant with a non-human animal, a dog or a pig, for example, we will often find the non-human to have superior capacities, both actual and potential, for rationality, self-consciousness, communication, and any other that can plausibly be considered morally significant? (Singer 201). This remark was made during the Baby Doe controversy of the Regan administration. However, in Germany an organization called Lebanshilfe, an organization for parents of intellectually disabled infants has adopted a set of Ethical Foundational Statements one of which is, ?The uniqueness of human life forbids any comparison – or, more specifically, equation – of human existence with other living beings, with their forms of life or interests? (Singer 202.) The revised counterpart to this commandment states, ? Do not discriminate on the basis of species? (Singer 202). This revised ethic is the one most rejected; it contradicts the fact all human life is of worth and is more sensitive in most people.

This sets forth the same message that a sexist or racist would hate, because you are not part of my group you are inferior. These ethical commandments or dictates provide a framework for today?s unstable society. The American Medical Association has devised a set of codes designed to guide researchers in their conduct during experimentation. The American Medical Association?s Ethical Guidelines for Clinical Investigation include:1. The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.2.

The experiment should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random or unnecessary in nature. 3. The experiment should be so designed and based on the results of animal experimentation and a knowledge of the natural history of the disease or other problem under study that the anticipated results will justify the performance of the experiment.4. The experiment should be so conducted as to avoid all unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury.5. No experiment should be conducted when there is an a priori reason to believe that death or disabling injury will occur; except, perhaps, in those experiments where the experimental physicians also serve as subjects.6. The degree of risk to be taken should never exceed that determined by the humanitarian importance of the problem to be solved by the experiment.7.

Proper preparations should be made and adequate facilities provided to protect the experimental subject against even remote responsibilities of injury, disability or death. 8. The experiment should only be conducted by scientifically qualified persons. the highest degree of skill and care should be required through all stages of the experiment of those who conduct or engage in the experiment. 9.

During the course of the experiment the human subject should be at liberty to bring the experiment to an end if he has reached the physical or mental state where continuation of the experiment seems to him to be impossible.10. During the course of the experiment the scientist in charge must be prepared to terminate the experiment at any stage, if he has probable cause to believe, in the exercise of good faith, superior skill, and careful judgment required of him, that a continuation of the experiment is likely to result in injury, disability, or death to the experimental subject (Levine 171-74)Such codes form a conceptual framework for the protection of human subjects. However, these guidelines are very vague for use in actual practice; clearly human experimentation includes much more than just the technical aspects. It includes mental, physical and emotional perspectives that can not be covered on a sheet of paper; the purpose of a structured written set of guidelines is totally to provide a rulebook by which researchers follow in order to be ethically correct. A researcher gains information through experimentation and they must have these guidelines (McKenzie 287). An example of how these guidelines can assist, but not be of complete structure would be the cancer injections.

The Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York is one of the country?s preeminent cancer centers. During the 1950?s and 1960?s they conducted a series of experiments to determine if there was a relationship between cancer and the immune system. The experimental hypothesis was that, ? the immune system of cancer patients is depressed with respect to that specific disease? (Levine 172). The scientists developed a program to test the hypothesis; it was to inject malignant cancer cells into human subjects. We do not know whether the volunteers were really being experimented on under strictly voluntary …


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