First, Do No Harm

First, Do No Harm

After hearing and reading about the Tuskegee studies, the many Nazi experiments, and countless other unethical experiments, it was hard to believe that the many researchers and doctors doing these experiments did not seem to find a problem with what they were doing. I think the researchers conducting the experiments get very involved in their research and discovering a new finding that it become difficult for them to take a step back and see what they are doing to people. Although the Nazi studies were horrific and caused many deaths and injuries, the experiments they were doing were going to help the soldiers and provided many scientific advancements. With the multiple advancements, they probably thought the work they were doing provided a lot of good in the world, despite the fact they were killing many people for these advancements. In order to prevent these unethical studies, I think it is important to take a step back from the study and try to put oneself in the shoes of the person getting the study done to them. If the researcher would not want the things they are doing to their research subjects it is most likely unethical. I also think it is important to look back at the Nuremberg Code and ensure that the researcher is following all those rules.

As a person who hopes to go into the health field and who will most likely be a part of research sometime in my life, I hope to pay attention to my research subjects and make sure that I am not getting too involved in the possible findings. With every step within the research, I will look at the subjects and ensure they are not being put in any harm. I also hope that the people I am working with or someone around me will tell him if something is unethical like I would do if I saw anything unethical.  It is very important to discuss these topics where ethics have come into question. We are able to see previous examples and learn from them. It is crucial to understand the previous unethical experiments to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.

9 thoughts on “First, Do No Harm

  1. It is quite amazing to see how blind these people seemed to be when they did their research in such horrific manners on these people. Each of these different sets of tests and research were inhumane and went against the Nuremberg codes. Although the Nazi’s didn’t have the Nuremberg codes during their trials, they knew how inhumane they were being (which is why the Nuremberg trials went as they did), but for the Tuskegee Trials, they went on even after the Nuremberg codes were passed. Did they not fit the category of research? It amazes me that even after we as humans developed codes to protect against something like this, it still occurs right in front of everyones eyes. Makes me wonder what other unethical studies could be going on right now that 25 years from now they will reveal to everyone. These historical examples truly are something that everyone in any area of research should learn about because it will reduce the chance of it occurring again and spread the idea of ethical research.

  2. We never really look at everything that is right in front of us. People either tend to only see the big picture, or only part of the portrait. Those who only acknowledge the big picture, only care about the long term effects of something. This type of thinking leads to researchers who neglect the boundaries of their experiments. The Nazis were so focus on winning the war, that they did not consider the value of a life. The Nazis did not care about killing hundreds of people in the pressure experiments because they thought a couple hundred would be better than the whole army. They let their judgement be clouded staring at this seemingly beautiful painting the wall and refused to pay attention to the detail within it.

    In my medical career, I will be sure to implement my short term goals with my long term goals. Let’s say my long term goal is to cure CPS. In order to ensure that I do not do anything unethical to obtain my long term goal, I will include my short term goals. For example, my short term goals is to gain a good relationship with my patients.

    These topics are important to discuss because we need to think about the type of professionals we want to be so we can minimize the risk of turning into the type that we do not want to be.

  3. It is important that as we continue through our lives, we surround ourselves with people who not only agree with our opinions but help challenge them. However, it is always important to remember there is always a difference between opinion and harmful views. Leaders should always have a clear, distinct, understanding of the difference and should not continue to lead unless it is clear. A lot of responsibility depends on them. In the same way these values should be remembered by the leaders of the health field.
    They should keep these values in mind especially when coming up with goals. No opinions should influence the care anyone receives.

  4. For a lot of researchers, I think it is very easy for them to become obsessed with their work. We have talked about how long it can take for research to actually produce usable results, and once it feels like you are on the cusp of a breakthrough after so long, researchers can almost become manic about finishing what they started. As a future health care provider, I hope that I always remember that solving a problem is not worth the life of my patient. I must remember that a life is worth so much more than a “medical breakthrough.” I must also be able to separate my work life and my personal life. During work, I should be surrounded by colleagues who are not afraid to correct me and make me question what I am doing and why. While at home, I shouldn’t still be thinking of my work and ways to continue it, because that means that I have become obsessed with my work life.

  5. At the time, the researchers may have thought they were doing more good than harm by conducting their unethical experiments, but it really makes one think about how far people are willing to go to prove a point or discover the truth. People start to value the answer more than things that are irreplaceable, like a human life. I agree that it is vital to take a step back and fully consider all of the implications a study may have on its participants.
    I still have not decided whether I want to do research in the future, but I did take an AP Research class in high school, and it was extremely easy to get caught up in gathering data and wanting nothing more than to finally have an answer to my research question. I also think it is important to keep discussing these horrific incidents of the past, to ensure that they don’t happen again. Yes, research needs to progress and there are discoveries waiting to be uncovered, but researchers must carefully consider the cost when conducting future studies.

  6. Many of these researchers who participated in unethical researches were blinded by their goals, so they were unable to see the harms they were creating. Take the Nazi experiments for examples, the doctors and researches thought that they were helping the Nazi military, that they were doing the necessary works for the greater good of the Third Reich. Their racist, anti-Semitic ideologies further allowed them to treat their subjects as less than human. Ignorance and failures to think critically had contributed to these researchers’ unethical actions.
    To avoid similar tragedies from happening again, it is important for us to learn form the past – what were the mistakes that these previous cases made, what were the ways to avoid them? In addition, as you mention in your post: “it is important to take a step back from the study”. When we are doing research, it is easy to be “caught up” by the works and forget about the well-beings of the subjects and other people. So I think it is really important to think critically and step outside of the research work once in a while – to continue to examine if there are any ethical issues at stakes. If I ever get involve in researches, I’ll always remind myself that the purpose of researches is to create knowledge so that it can be applied to help people. If my research works are harming others instead of benefiting them, than this research isn’t worth doing.

  7. I agree that it is really important to try and take a step back when looking at things. Its really interesting how you mentioned about how the scientists viewed things when they were doing these tests since that isn’t something people consider that often.

  8. As someone who will probably participate in research sometime during my career, I was also astounded at how oblivious the researchers were. Perhaps they thought that the ends justified the means since they would be discovering very useful and groundbreaking? Either way, I don’t want to fall victim to my own vanity as they did and thus I will need to surround myself with people I can trust: people who can support me and still not be afraid to keep me in check. I agree that thinking twice about the means and the effect on all people involved would be a good way to ensure nothing unethical happens. Discussion of these topics and the history of research is important because history shows us the pitfalls of past researches and discussion can help us to prevent ourselves from falling into the same or similar situations. Like you said, understanding these things will help us to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.

  9. Like you, I was astounded at how many of the researchers and doctors participated in unethical studies, and wonder how they could have ever seemed acceptable. It seems to me that the diffusion of responsibility is a key component to creating an environment where these experiments can happen. For example, in the case of the syphilis trials the actual researchers had immunity, with “the government” being responsible in legal trials. To me it seems this lack of responsibility could incline researches to feel fine about unethical practices because they are impervious.

    Another interesting topic related to accountability I would like to discuss are the Nazi experiments. For those such as Mengele it is clear he was a perpetrator of horrendous practices that should have never been allowed, however, for those on his research team that he was in charge of I would argue they were less responsible, because if they dissented its possible they would have been persecuted and perhaps executed themselves. This is the reason why I believe that many “looked the other way” when they realized how awful Hitler’s regime was; It was either assimilate or face persecution.

    Although we’ve come a long way since the 1940’s, it’s still clear that there are unethical practices occurring today. As the next generation of medical professionals we all have a responsibility to acknowledge and do our best to combat these occurrences.

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