Sometimes, people who think they are doing the right thing can still end up causing harm to those they are trying to help.  I believe this happens because people become set in their ways.  I found it hard to imagine how anyone could become so blind to the fact that they are hurting others until I realized it’s the same line of thinking that other scientific researchers can have.  For example, scientists can become very attached to a hypothesis they are testing.  If later, it is discovered that the hypothesis is incorrect and needs to be modified, the scientist could be hesitant to change it and start over because of this attachment.  People want to hold on to their initial ideas for as long as possible because of our desire to be correct and because we don’t want to change.  In some extreme cases, this mentality can cause larger problems, such as changing test results to align with predictions.  This same mentality can affect people in all professions.

In my future career, regardless of what it is, I will need to remain as open to change as possible.  This can be a matter of life or death for medical professionals, but it can also pertain to other careers.  As a doctor, sometimes things will go wrong and it will be necessary to deviate from the original plan.  This must be done without hesitation to minimize risks.  Doctors need to be ready for everything.  And they must be open to all forms of change.  The patient always must come before your ego.  First, do no harm.

I believe it’s important we discuss all past research, no matter how unethical it may be.  We need to educate ourselves on the past and learn from our mistakes so we don’t make the same ones in the future.  No matter your profession, all of us must know that it is okay, and sometimes necessary, to change our ideas.

8 thoughts on “WEEK 3 – IT’S OKAY TO CHANGE

  1. I find your idea about people developing too strong of a connection to their research interesting, as it can certainly blind experimenters from the effects of their tests on actual subjects. Whether it was the ruthless effort to ensure the survival of the Axis military by Nazi medicine, or a disturbing draw to the studying of eugenics that led to forced sterilization in Canada, these instances are horrifying examples of individuals not contemplating the effect of their actions (or simply not caring) due to their devotion to a certain cause or idea.

    I certainly agree with your idea of hesitancy to change one’s study techniques having the potential to be a direct cause of harm to subjects involved in an experiment. However, you claim that ego is a primary force involved in this is questionable, especially in the medical field as you mention. A doctor does not need a large ego to cause harm to patients; in fact, I believe one’s ego is rarely the cause of incidents involving this. It is more often than not a simple lack of understanding of a patients situation, or lack of equal care for all patients. This is not as much a problem with ego as it is one with deep, equal consideration of what is best for all patients. Even in horrible cases such as the one involving Farid Fata, patients were simply taken advantage of to a horrifying degree. It is an issue of crime and punishment, not egoism, similar to how the Tuskegee trials were a problem of pure racism and horrible treatment of subjects.

  2. I can definitely see how researchers have the potential to become too attached to their projects. However, I agree with Jeremy and believe that the major issue in past research was that the people in power – those conducting the research – simply regarded some population of life as higher quality than another. Even in the case of forced sterilization where race was not the primary issue at hand, the eugenics board had the power to decide who would be “fit” and “unfit” and greatly abused this power.

    In the future, I think that having an “open mind” and being willing to change is a positive idea. Further, I think that as health care providers we need to see our patients (research participants, what have you), as real people, who are the only people who have any say over what happens to their bodies. It is easy to get caught up in data, statistics, and/or charts, but behind all of these numbers are dynamic people who have entrusted us in their care. This is a privilege, and one that is not to be taken lightly.

  3. I agree that having a preconceived notion of what is best, whether that be the best hypothesis for an experiment or a treatment plan for a patient, can be cloud the vision of what is best with what makes the holder of that idea “right.” People who do not know how to accept that they are wrong can cling to their original idea until the last, putting the patient or subject of research in potential danger. Those who cannot let go of their original notions to see what is right for fear that they will appear inferior or weak are dangerous people who do not have a place in health care or research. Thankfully, many of those who apply themselves in both fields are above such pettiness.

  4. I agree with your idea that researchers sometimes too caught up in their research. Last semester I took psychology and we talked about the Stanford prison experiment. In this experiment, college students were assigned to either be guards or prisoners in a fake prison. This experiment quickly became harmful to the participants. However, the researcher that was overseeing the experiment did not notice the harm that was being caused until a graduate student pointed it out to him.
    Research is done to better the health of everyone. As future healthcare providers, I think that it is very important that we do not lose sight of this and end up causing harm with our research.

  5. Scientists being hesitant to admitting they were wrong is indeed a big problem. In the scientific world the need to prove a hypothesis can be so immense that the means become less and less important. Usually industry pays for proving certain hypotheses and if you can’t provide results they may very well retract their funds. This however only applies to some scientists. Others were just wrong and in my opinion holding on to their hypotheses was not the cause of their issues or wrongdoings but assumptions like eugenics that are just wrong.

    I agree that discussing past unethical research is essential for everyone that even thinks about doing research. We have seen that history tends to repeat itself. In class that many were unbelieving when they learned that even after the Nazi experiments there were several cases of unethical research that clearly showed that people had not learned from their mistakes.

  6. I really do agree with you when you say that people become set in their ways. I believe this has a lot to do with the way society teaches us to behave. From a young age, we are taught to stick up for what we believe in. If someone believes they are right then they will most definitely fight for it. Also, confidence and patience are core values in our society. We are taught that sometimes we must give things time to succeed, which may provide additional reason to continue an experiment. However, I think there’s one particular belief that explains that the “ends justify the means”. If you believe that your experimentation could lead to a beneficial discovery, then you may be willing to sacrifice the few, no matter how gruesome the matter, in order to weigh the needs of the many. In some ways, it is hard to argue the train of thought that it’s more important to save thousands of lives, by sacrificing a smaller number of lives, assuming that all lives are of equal value. However, it is important to remember that as humans we do not decide who lives and dies. Is the ethical sacrifice worth the potential benefits of experimental success.

  7. I agree with everything you wrote here. I too was absolutely astounded that there was at least one person who thought they were doing good by all of the horrible situations we discussed in lecture.
    The part that really got me was when I started thinking of times that I thought I was doing right by people when in reality I wasn’t. Clearly I haven’t violated human rights or hurt anyone fatally (I hope) but I still considered times that maybe I didn’t think twice before saying something that brought harm when I thought it wouldn’t.
    That is another thing I think we should all remember in our future careers. Although the ethics laws are clear on physical harm, what if we harm people mentally without even realizing it? We should all make sure we think twice before speaking.

  8. I agree that it seems like sometimes, researchers and doctors become so attached to their end goal that they almost become detached from their patients and subjects. As we learned in lecture, this had caused terrible violations to human rights in the past. I agree that it’s important to be open to change in any profession, especially in medicine. And learning about history of health care will keep things like this from happening again.

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