Bioethics @ TIU

An All-Too-Brief Review of Being Mortal

Posted November 27th, 2014 by Jon Holmlund

Being Mortal, which is subtitled “Medicine and What Matters in the End,” is about aging and frailty, decline and death, and dealing with those as well as possible.  It’s not really a book about medical ethics or even about medicine as much as about our latter days.  It’s full of stories about the loss of independence, assisted living, nursing homes, intensive care at the end… // Read More »

Bioethics Exam

Posted November 21st, 2014 by Joe Gibes

In keeping with the evaluation-obsessed spirit of the time, here is a little bioethics test. No multiple-choice fill-in-the-bubbles here, no simple true/false; but bioethics usually isn’t so simple, is it? So it’s OK if you don’t have a No. 2 pencil, you can still take today’s exam! _______________________ 1. The patient-physician relationship depends on trust, and close observation, and appreciating subtleties, and giving one’s full attention… // Read More »

Resident physicians as the key to Do Not Resuscitate orders

Posted November 20th, 2014 by Jon Holmlund

At last month’s ASCO Palliative Care conference in Boston, one of the presentations was a survey, done by resident physicians (doctors 1-3 years out of medical school, doing hospital-based, post graduate training) at Tufts Medical Center.  The topic: what their fellow residents thought about conducting conversations with patients about Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders. Some background:  most of the time, these conversations would arise in… // Read More »

The Importance of Ethical Standards

Posted November 16th, 2014 by Cody Chambers

This week, banking regulators announced fines totaling over $4 billion against six banks from around the world, including Switzerland’s UBS and the USA’s JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America.  Some weren’t ready for a deal: London-based Barclays Plc., which had been in settlement talks, said it wasn’t ready for a deal. This seemed a little like déjà vu to me, since I was living in… // Read More »

Is it right to compel hospital staff to care for patients with Ebola?

Posted November 14th, 2014 by Joe Gibes

Is it right for hospitals to compel their staff to care for patients with Ebola?   In response to the Ebola epidemic in Africa, hospitals here are preparing for the low-probability but high-risk prospect of caring for patients with Ebola. There are at least two different approaches hospitals are taking. Some hospitals are assembling a team of personnel who volunteer to care for any patients… // Read More »

Three Items About Human Research Ethics

Posted November 13th, 2014 by Jon Holmlund

Much of the day-to-day of bioethics involves specific decisions about the ethics of human subject research.  This week brings three items—ranging from a standard “bread and butter” issue that is particularly topical, on the one hand, to the incredibly bureaucratic and arcane on the other. The “bread and butter” issue is, under what circumstances is it ethical to use a placebo in clinical research?  The… // Read More »

Dying and Dignity

Posted November 11th, 2014 by Tom Garigan

On November 1st, Brittany Maynard, a 29 year-old Oregonian with an incurable brain tumor, took her own life using a medication prescribed by a physician specifically for this purpose. The medication, legal under the Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, was prescribed weeks earlier. The case is well-known because Brittany became a spokesperson for efforts to expand “assisted suicide” laws to other states. Through her own… // Read More »

Embodying a right to health care

Posted November 7th, 2014 by Joe Gibes

In a residency applicant’s personal statement, I came across this sentence about a doctor working among impoverished rural people: “His presence embodies their equal right to health care.” Equal right to health care. When speaking about rights, I always hear that one person’s positive right implies an obligation on somebody else’s part to provide something. For instance, one person’s right to health care implies that somebody… // Read More »

On Testimonial and Argument in Bioethics

Posted November 6th, 2014 by Jon Holmlund

We all know, as Steve Phillips reminded us yesterday, that Brittany Maynard took the pills this past Sunday, one day later than she had originally planned.  In the days before that, she appealed to our compassion for her in her suffering—and powerfully at that.  Equally powerful were stories from the likes of Kara Tippetts and, as Steve pointed out, Maggie Karner, two women with terminal… // Read More »

Physician assisted suicide on YouTube

Posted November 5th, 2014 by Steve Phillips

Physician assisted suicide (PAS) is in the news in a way that is different than before. It is not because it is election time and a state has a ballot initiative about legalizing PAS. It is because a 29 year old woman with an aggressive malignant brain tumor, Brittany Maynard, has chosen to use PAS to end her life and chosen to do it very… // Read More »