First, Do No Harm!

First, Do No Harm!

This week in class we touched on major instances of medical abuse in the 20th and 21st Century. The cases that we covered in class was both shocking and interesting in my opinion. Some of the cases we discussed I was very familiar with, but the others I didn’t know much about. I was in awe when I saw that in these cases hundreds of people died and they did not make a big deal about it, like it was normal. I believe they reacted this way because they felt they were doing something good, but they were really causing a lot of harm to people at the end of the day. They felt this way because at this point their studies and results meant more to them than people’s lives. Their main focus was to make history and make a difference, but they approached this situation completely the wrong way.

In the future as I become closer to accomplishing my goal in becoming a doctor I will make sure I do not perpetuate these thoughts and actions by finding a balance between my study and my participants. I will make sure my study is something I am passionate about, but I will make sure that the participants are not being harmed and they will know everything they will encounter during the study. It is important that we discuss these topics because several individuals aren’t knowledgeable about what has happened during these studies or in history period. Therefore, if you don’t know about these cases then you are at risk of making the same mistake that they made.  Rather the events in history were good or bad we must learn how to appreciate how they have shaped, and continue to influence, the health care system that we work in today!

10 thoughts on “First, Do No Harm!

  1. I too was shocked by some of the cases that were talked about in class this week. Its crazy to think some of these things happened not too long ago. I agree with your statement about how important it is not to forget history. History has a pattern of repeating itself so it is so important that we not only acknowledge what has happened in the past but that we learn from it and shape our world from it.

  2. I have taken two bioethics classes in the past. One was at the high school level (an online class), the other was at the University of Michigan-Flint. In both classes, we learned about these same experiments, and the ethics involved with using the data. Everyone can agree that these experiments are extremely unethical, but opinions differ on whether or not we should be using unethically gathered research. I believe we should. The nature of how this information was gathered is horrific; however, nothing will ever undo the past and the data collected has proven extremely useful in medicine.

    The experiment That shocked me the most was Milgram’s experiment. When I first heard it, it did not seem that unethical. No one was actually physically harmed anyone in this experiment, but it did have unforeseen psychological consequences, leaving some of the participants psychologically and emotionally scarred for life as they believed they had actually killed someone.

  3. It is crazy to think that in these historical studies, the results were more valued than human lives. I can see how people would get carried in the “passion” of their research, and so it is important to acknowledge these studies for the horrible way they treated people. As you said, “history repeats itself” and so we must be sure to never let ourselves or our colleagues lose sight of the ethical implications of our work.

  4. I completely agree with you India! i believe the first step to advancement in the medical field is informing patients of what they are getting themselves into before agree to the studies. By doing this, researchers are doing what is best for their patients without unintentionally harming them in the long run. I also I think that it is really crazy that certain unethical research projects occurred in the past and a lot of innocent people lost there lives because of it. I can wrap my head around the fact that some doctors, people who are suppose to be their patients super heroes and help them get better, were in on the plan and only making things worst. When I become a doctor, I would never want to put my patients in harms way.

  5. I was too in shock at the cases we heard about in Thursday’s lecture. As for the Tuskeegee experiment with Syphillis, they used doctors and health professionals of the same race as the patients. I was very hurt by this and saddened because it makes me think of black people today who won’t go anywhere near a doctor or a hospital because they feel as if they can trust no one. A person may be dying and in pain but because of previous encounters or what they have heard from other people, they will not get checked out. As a future health care professional, I want to ensure trust between my patient and I because that is the only way for you to truly treat your patient with the best care. What happened in the past, does not mean that is the way things are now and I want to be one of those people who make a way for a better and more trusted healthcare system.

  6. Like the previous comments, I was absolutely shocked about the cases discussed in lecture. I was familiar with the Tuskegee Syphilis Trial, but some of the other cases were new to me. The Canada case/study that institutionalized children with mental illness or disorders to sterilize them was inhumane. The experimenters of this case truly believed that they were doing something good and protecting their society by sterilizing children with mental disorders.
    I think it is very important, like Adam said in lecture, to understand the history of medicine. Understanding the history, can help others learn from their mistakes. Many of the research, or experiments, were unethical in the past, but that cannot prohibit us from learning and building onto the discoveries made in the past. The way scientists went about discovering these new findings were morally wrong, but if we do not use the data, it was as if the participants went through all of the pain and suffering for no reason.
    When I become a doctor I will make sure that I think through all the possibilities to conduct my research. I want to go the best route, without dehumanizing the participants.

  7. I agree completely. If we do not understand our past, we are bound to repeat the same mistakes. It is important for us to make progress, but at what cost. Each study should be considered on a case by case, where all the risks are calculated. Also, we need to ask if this study is something needed for medical advancement, and if it can improve healthcare as a whole. If the answer is yes, then the next question is how can we go about it ethically and responsibly. Regulations need to be stricter and what is happening in these studies need to be more transparent to the public eye.

  8. I relate very well to your post, India. I thought the cases we discussed in class were both interesting and shocking. They were shocking because I never imagined people would be able to do such horrendous things. They were interesting because the people committing these horrendous things had no idea that what they were doing was wrong. I couldn’t believe how the government responded to the Tuskegee syphilis trials. They had no idea that what they were doing was awful to these men, and their families. The fact that they didn’t apologized for decades is astonishing to me. As I approach my goal of also becoming a doctor I will try to avoid any unethical practices as best I can. No one is perfect, therefore it is possible that it could happen. I believe by educating ourselves on these past cases will help us avoid committing any in the future.

  9. I agree like many others agree on your perspective on how to go about research that could affect the lives of many people. Even though, informing the participants of a study is important. I for one feel that we should keep an eye on our colleagues to see if they are doing anything wrong. The problem with this is that many personnel are afraid or are coerced into not telling anything. There is a negative stigma against whistleblowers. However, I feel that if there is something immoral happening that it is our duty as medical professionals to let the people know. Take the Michigan cancer doctor who harmed the lives of many by giving them chemotherapy that wasn’t needed. If the staff that had left the practice said anything, lives could have been saved.

  10. I agree that as future health care professionals, we should place the wellbeing of our patients higher than anything else. Research is important but it is definitely not as important as human life. Technically, boundaries can be pushed only if the participant is fully aware of all of the consequences and consents to it, yet if pushing the boundary means causing harm, then it should not be attempted. We should not purposely cause harm to patients for the sake of research yet I think that we should actively search for better ways to make groundbreaking discovering in the medical field.

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