How to do no harm?

How to do no harm?

I think that in many cases, people who may have “good” intentions initially can end up causing great harm to a lot of people at least partly due to societal norms and influences of the times. For example, with the Nazi doctors’ experiments, in their minds they may think that they were actually doing something good for their nation’s soldiers’ survival. This may have justified to them the merits of conducting all the inhumane and awful experiments. Also, with the compulsory sterilization in Canada, they justified their actions by citing the possibility of “improving” their nation’s gene pool. In any case, I believe that these people’s actions could have at least been partly influenced by societal beliefs of the times.

As someone who hopes to one day become a healthcare provider and interact with patients on a daily basis, I will make sure that I look at each patient as an individual. I think that in many instances it becomes easy for doctors to consider each patient as simply another case instead of a person. This then could make it easier for them to then disregard ethical concerns in treating patients. It is extremely important for us to discuss the issue of ethics and morality, but also to learn about instances in history where healthcare providers and governments have failed to uphold these standards. We must learn about what is right, but also about what happens when things go wrong. We must learn from our mistakes in order for progress to happen.



8 thoughts on “How to do no harm?

  1. I agree with what you mentioned about each provider treating each patient as a real person. I think that that would be a great practice to make sure that each person is not treated like a lab rat. One question that people could ask themselves is “Would I want this done to me?” This might help with the ethical treatment of patients and research participants. I think for the researchers in Germany and other parts of the world, historically they believe that they are doing research to benefit the greater good of society while sacrificing a few people. I also agree that learning the history of research and medicine is so important in conducting studies and looking at research. This way if we can see what ethical codes were broken in the past and understand the intentions of the people conducting those studies, we will be better able to identify those behaviors in our own research and practice to avoid making those same mistakes.

  2. In my career, I hope to never gain the bias that allows me to overlook a person’s individuality. As you mentioned, I want to see their individuality. I think that the main reason that these unethical studies happen, is because that researchers and professionals can overlook the subject’s personhood. Although I agreed that research that was found using unethical methods, I can’t help but think of the context we use those people in. They could not consent, they didn’t have choices, and almost no one considered their feelings or health. I believe it is vital to understand that everyone matters, and if we are ‘bettering’ ourselves by abusing others are we are not really changing anything. I agree that we must identify these problematic methods so that ALL people can benefit from research, rather than just be used by it.

  3. I believe that it is important to reflect on why people choose to enter the health field in the first place. Unfortunately, many medical professionals do not have the first and foremost central goal of helping people, and instead, they are in this profession for money and prestige. If helping people is not the first answer people give when asked why they want to be a medical professional, then that is a huge problem and monstrous disaster waiting to happen.

    People are faced with challenges and temptations all the time, every single day. Therefore, it is natural and understandable that health care professionals can get blindsided by the money and the power. In order to prevent the perpetuation of these thoughts, I believe that self-reflection is essential. I must constantly ask myself what makes me get up in the morning and why I am doing this job. The point of this is to check if my answer is to help people every single time because if it is not, then I am in danger of falling off the wagon or have already fallen. I must constantly remind myself why I chose to go into the medical field and remind myself of my purpose. When I feel like I am doing something wrong, I process it myself, but I also ask people who are close to me for advice and for them to check me. I find reflecting and talking to be an incredibly humbling experience. Talking to others will force me to analyze what I am doing from a different perspective, and it will help me understand the situation better.

  4. When looking at these past experiments, we know they are appalling and wonder how anyone could be so cruel. However, the people conducting these experiments believed their intentions were good because they would receive results that would be beneficial to the majority of society. This shows how people can be blindsided by what they believe is righteous, causing them to forget about the damage they are inflicting upon others. Therefore, I agree with you that we must look at each patient individually to deliver the best quality care. If we don’t, this can lead to overlooking the ethical matters of healthcare and harming the patient. Focusing on each patient as an individual will allow us to truly treat them as a human, not just another case.

  5. Whether a research is good or not depends on the value of the result comparing to the resources invested in the research. Before the Nuremberg Code, this question is answered solely by the researchers and the people who are funding the projects. The judgement can be called erroneously when they are blinded by corrupted morals or greed. In the cases of the Nazi scientists, they believed that the life of a German pilot for example, is more worthy than the lives of the prisoners they put in pressure chambers and therefore the research was a ‘good’ research.

    The Nuremberg Code enforces a moral guideline to the types of studies that can be done involving human participants. It added third-party supervision to the previously unregulated fields.

    Even with the presence of the Nuremberg Code, in cases such as the Syphilis experiment, still happened. In order to enforce practice of the code, greater transparency should be required in studies that have the potential to go wrong.

  6. I completely agree with what you are saying, but I think as human beings we are going to make mistakes inevitably, even if we are making decisions with the best possible intentions. I think that with every generation there are certain things that seem to be healthy or righteous, but as a result have disastrous consequences. However, we can learn from the mistakes of our predecessors and strive to for success as we progress to be the next generation of health care professionals. Mistakes and failures allow us to learn on how to approach situations better, and even as awful the experiments done by Nazi scientists, some of that medical information ended up being used to further medical research elsewhere. It is always within the best interest of the medical professional to give the greatest care possible, but to think that will guarantee success is naive. We will learn from our mistakes, without failures we will never learn what it means to truly succeed.

  7. I think that it is really important that you pointed out how many researchers that have done terribly unethical things, did actually have good intentions. I think very often researchers and other medical care professionals do not take into account how vulnerable the people they are working with are. When you have that title as “researcher” or “doctor” or other health care professional there is naturally a power dynamic created between subjects/patients and professionals. As blooming health care professionals, I feel that it is extremely important for all of us to become aware of this power dynamic, in order for us to avoid taking advantage of it. When we are considering our future careers, it is so important for us to all have our hearts in the right place because health care professionals inherently work with those who are vulnerable. In any type of work, the ethical components should be strongly considered so that the imbalance of power does not produce destructive effects.

  8. I agree that a patient’s individuality can be very important, and that indeed their humanity should never, under any circumstances be questioned or ignored. However, I also think there are situations where a health professional may need to separate themselves from a patient’s individuality in order to prevent unnecessary bias in their work. For instance, when prison inmates become sick enough that they need to be seen in a hospital setting, there are certain protocols that demand that their individuality is “masked”. This is in order to protect those patients, as well as the hospital staff who are treating them. This helps to limit bias that staffers might have against those patients based on something they may have done in their past. Overall, I think it is important to find a balance. Health professionals should never ignore the humanity of their patients, but they also need to be able to remain professional in order to give the best possible care.

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