Do No Harm

Do No Harm

I think that researchers, like the ones we talked about in class, thought they were doing “good” in some way but actually ended up doing harm to their study participants because they were only focused and set on seeing results, no matter how they got them, even if that means putting study participants in harm’s way. They forgot that the subjects were actual humans beings.

I don’t think there are that many more steps that I, personally, need to take as I move forward in my career, no matter what research I do. Unfortunately, this is because people in the past have made it required for researchers now to protect their subjects (even though researches should always protect their study participants) with the establishments of the Nuremberg Code and the IRB.

Topics like these should always be discussed, no matter if your research involves humans or not. Conducting research and being on the edge of knowledge will always have its risk and it is important to learn from our past mistakes in order for them to not be repeated again in the future.

9 thoughts on “Do No Harm

  1. I agree with you that it is important to learn from our past mistakes in order to stop them from happening again. It is truly disheartening when I read about Dr. Fata, the Michigan oncologist. His actions are terrifying and no different from how the Nazis who performed sickening procedures to humans in order to gain something beneficial out of it.
    It is very important that history is preserved to prevent our society of repeating the past and causing more harm to others. Educating others can bring awareness to the issues that were or are present, however, there are times when something is out of our control and there will be people in the world that will have bad intentions no matter how hard we try to prevent certain situations from occurring.

  2. Wow Matt, I totally agree with your statement about how we should be discussing such topics in order to help prevent similar events in the future. I believe that this is why experimental ethics are really pushed on researchers, so that they ultimately don’t repeat the unmoral acts of the Nazis and last 20th century scientists. Keeping ethics in mind helps keep in mind that the human subjects of an experiment are alive and aware of the treatments that are being put on them. That point of mine is derived from your interesting comment that Nazi scientists did not see their subjects as people because they were focused on the end goal, which as you commented is not by any means right! Its a shame that such events ever had to take place for global experimental to become enacted.

  3. I agree with your claim that the researchers were doing “good,” but they misinterpreted this word. Researchers of the Tuskegee Syphilis study believed they were doing good by intending to obtain information that would help cure syphilis, but in carrying out this goal, they had to find some way to justify their actions. They decided to do so by referring to African Americans as “unfit for evolution.” Indeed, these professionals “forgot” that minorities were human beings.

    I disagree with you when you claim that there aren’t more steps for you to take, because in health care, there are no “personal” steps; every step you take can have an impact in the health field. Together, health professionals should work to improve the ethical rights of research subjects, while advancing the quality of research.

  4. I agree with you that these topics must be discussed more. It is only a matter of time before we will hear about another horrible experiment that is being done which causes unnecessary harm to the subjects, whether it be human or even animal subjects. The most important thing that people can do in order to stop this damage from happening is to educate people about experiments like these. Education helps people to understand the effects of their actions and this will help minimize the likeliness that another destructive experiment will happen again.

  5. I do agree with you that the researchers thought that they were doing good, but they also were aware of the harm they were putting people in, and I believe they chose subjects that were socially dehumanized. For example, the Tuskegee syphilis studied only black people, so I feel as if doctors chose study subjects that they thought was “okay” to do these harmful things to. These mistakes that these doctors have made have helped us create laws to our research so everyone is safe during research studies. Health professionals need to keep working towards the goal of doing no harm to their study subjects/patients.

  6. I think why people who think they are doing “good” end up causing harm is a question of priority. As we learnt through history, the various researches conducting studies that ended up demoralizing its human participants prioritized their research goals above all else. They think that the “good” that are derived for the research lies in the valuable knowledge gained and that the “minor” sacrifices are for the greater good. For example, the Nazi researches may have thought that the researches will end up saving more lives, primarily the lives of Nazi soldiers that will serve the Nazi ideology and goal. If this was not the case, then the lives of the Nazi soldiers are as insignificant as the lives of the research participants. It all depends on their usefulness of the greater purpose. Doing no harm was therefore never a priority.
    What I need to do to not perpetuate these thoughts is to be cognizant that the end never justifies the means. What end goal is not the ultimate purpose, the steps that I take to get there, is equally if not more important.

  7. I agree that the researchers believed that they would make a difference. However, I think that they removed themselves too far from their humanity. In the case of the Nazis, they believed that there subjects were something less than human. This seemed to be a justification for their suffering. In the Tuskegee trials, the US government treated human beings in a way that no living creature should be treated. This idea of a “greater good” outweighing the suffering of human beings is what led to these atrocities. The fact that we used this information to help people could even be seen as unethical. What is stopping someone from doing something horrible to a group of people with the justification that it might cure cancer? We ridicule the people that harmed others, but welcome the information they found with open arms.

  8. I wholeheartedly agree with your point that the researchers “believed” they were doing good. However, in their pursuit of results, they went so far as to knowingly inflict harm upon their patients. To me, it seems as if most of these researchers were able to commit such heinous crimes by dehumanizing the patients.

    I believe in multiple classes here at the University I have learned how to perform safe research. In my Anthro 101 class specifically we learned about respecting the patients and how their safety should always be preserved above the research.

    I believe it is important to discuss these topics because as we have seen time and time again. People make these same mistakes. I personally thought eugenics was a thing of the past that was left behind in Nazi Germany but when I learned that other scientists had carried it on. I was shocked.I know understand that despite the great strides we have made such as establishing a Review Board, we can still never be too careful.

  9. I agree, it is extremely important that we talk about these topics and learn from our mistakes in the past, whether the mistakes were with good intentions or not. Patient/ subject safety is of utmost importance, and just as you said, with the IRB and the Nuremberg code, this can be better insured. Though malpractice still occurs today, which I still find rather shocking, the ethics and rules put in place currently are better maintained than they once were. I believe that it is important to have complete transparency with patients/ subjects when conducting trials, as they are the ones putting their lives out there the better research for the medical and science communities. I just wonder to what extent people will believe is worth a sacrifice to better the community.

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