First, Do No Harm

First, Do No Harm

Research is a job where you can become consumed by your job and finding an answer. This week we focused on multiple research projects that marginalized groups in order to gain more information about the human body and diseases. A lot of these researchers got so involved with their work that they lost sight in what they were actually doing. I think that they were so focused on the end goal of their project that they forgot who they were hurting.


In order to stop people and researching from perpetuating their behavior laws and regulations have been put into place. The Nuremberg code put guidelines into place that forces researchers to get their projects approved and states that participation is voluntary for everyone. They also put guidelines into place that keep participants away from danger.
It is important that we discuss topics like these in order to stop them from happening in the future. By facilitating conversation people become more aware of what is unethical and will hopefully think before they try to complete similar research. Unfortunately, these occurrences have left multiple groups of people to distrust medical professionals, which has negatively affected their health. Studies have found that there is a correlation between older black men’s life expectancy and the Tuskegee research. My question is, how can we restore trust between the groups in these research projects and medical professionals?

11 thoughts on “First, Do No Harm

  1. I agree that the regulations put in place are good because it ensures the safety and health of the participants that in the past has maybe gone to the wayside. In my ninth grade history course, I was told one of the four reason we study history is to learn about the past mistakes and make sure we don’t repeat them. This statement, and my dad always telling me its okay to mess up as long as you learn from it, have really stuck with me. These concepts are absolutely relevant to last weeks lecture. Unfortunately, many researchers have gone to far in engrossing themselves in getting a result and may not of realized the harm they caused. Because I am now educated in these studies I know I will not repeat these horrible instances myself as a future healthcare professional. To guarantee I will not perpetuate these thoughts and actions I will continue to learn about the past, I will follow the regulations in place, and make sure I take a step back from my work from time to time and ask myself “why am I doing this work? whats harms are I creating?”

  2. I think mistrust, in this context, is a cultural attitude proliferated by generations of racism and oppression. While the Tuskegee study surely contributed, I believe it was only one of the factors that contributed to a lack of trust in health care professionals by the African American community. This trust could be restored by these communities having pleasant and beneficial interactions with their providers, but this is only likely to happen if providers are more cognisant when they make decisions. Providers should aim to become unbiased while remaining efficient and effective.

    This is not an effective solution as a whole, however, as many in low SES Black dominant communities are uninsured and cannot afford to go to a physician. In addition to their mistrust, a lack of financial means makes it even less likely that these communities will make new contact with physicians, especially if they haven’t seen one for a while. Overall, there are many short term solutions for solving the problem, such as encouraging more black doctors to practice in black dominant areas that lack physicians, and increasing accessibility to low cost healthcare. The only long term solution would be a cultural revolution, decades of affirmative action, and a socialized and public healthcare system.

  3. I think is a great teacher to future generations, as it teaches us what did and did not work, and lets us learn from our mistakes and grow on our progress. Ti mes of human experimentation showed us the darkest sides of the human psyche, and showed just how far we can go to achieve “medical” knowledge. Our failures in the past have led to much regulation as to what can and cant be done to humans for research purposes, and our quality of life has improved, but there is still much wrong-doing to address, especially in areas of greater disparity than our own. We are growing in our efforts to preserve human values, but more work could definitely be done.

  4. Although there were many experiments that resulted in damaging the relationship between researchers and their participants, there has been a good amount of progress made in reducing the chances that an unethical experiment would be carried out. With the introduction of the Nuremberg code, informed consent was a principle that has to be enforced for all experiments. As a result, both research participants and other fellow researchers are able to determine whether or not a certain experimented should be conducted. Trust between researchers and their participants may never be completely restored due to what has happened, but the constant effort put forth to restrict the boundaries of experiments has been helpful in easing that lack of trust.

  5. I agree with what was said in the above comments. I believe many researchers do get carried away with their research that they forget that the lives of the patients come first. It is imperative to have this established, so that the mistakes in the past aren’t repeated. Also, if a medical professional is truly passionate about his/her research, they should have guidelines of when it is not okay to cross the line in harming someone. Patients have every right to know what is being done to them, or if their records are being used for a future study.

    As an aspiring doctor, now that I am aware of these events from the past, I will always put my patients first because that is how one can gain the trust of the patients. Patients should be aware by the medical professionals before stepping in to the office so that they aren’t intimidated. With this being done, over time the trust can be restored between patients and research projects.

  6. I too believe people tend to fixate on the end goal and often cause harm in the process. This does not necessarily have to be standardized to the traditional research setting; I can think of numerous instances where I have pursued a goal, regardless of what it took to achieve. The only way to restore trust, although a rift will always exist, is to physically show change by properly executing research with these groups of people. Perceptions and stereotypes don’t change overnight- only time can restore trust.

  7. You asked how we can restore trust. There really is no quick fix. Trust is something that must be earned over a long period of time. It could take years for one person to trust another. For a population of people to trust medical professionals after they abused that trust will take much longer. There is nothing anyone can do that is not already being done: human study guidelines are more strict, the experimenters must be more open, and no other major scandals have been committed in the United States after the Tuskegee trials (that I know of). All there is to do now is wait for the trust to build and not break it again when it finally does.

  8. Although the doctors were doing their projects for a long time, I find it hard to believe that they forgot about who they were hurting. Especially in Nazi Germany, it was very clear that their patients were being tortured with pain during these experiments. The doctors were kept on track because of fear or money, and if they wanted to stop at any time because of moral reasons they could have. Even after the Nuremberg Code was put in place, the Tuskegee Syphilis Trials continued, so obviously not all organizations followed suit–even the ACA. There are many ways to go about solving the problem, but it is impossible to know if they work even after they’re implemented. So all the powers in control can do is pass legislation like the Nuremberg code that is regulatory to control the ethical standards of research.

  9. I think the best way to restore trust between researchers, medial professionals and participants or patients is to ensure that there is true transparency between both parties. I believe it is essential for participants to know about the experiment and to know the specifics of what they are agreeing to, especially if it is something that not all people would be comfortable with. Although I do not think that transparency will not fix everything automatically, I do believe it is a good start and I do not understand why any institution would no be as clear as possible in their goals and methods, however, history has showed us otherwise.

  10. I feel that some individuals that think they are doing “good”, actually end up doing bad things because of the view they are looking at the situation. I feel that these individuals look at what they are doing, only through how it can benefit them. Not how it affects the other people that are either influenced or a part of whatever action they are conducting. Whether it be for money, for fame, or just for power; most people on look at it from this view. Instead of viewing how it can hurt people or not benefit others that are on the opposite side of the spectrum. I will avoid this by trying to view all possible sides of a situation. Such as learning about the pros and the cons for what I am doing for me, and also for anyone that can be influenced as well. I am not sure what career I want to go into, but I am sure it can be applied to just about any that I end up choosing. There will always be a way to make corrupt decisions, or a way to hurt others as I progress in life and my career; simply by just not paying attention to the entire situation. It is important because some people may not realize all the harm in their actions. So if it is discussed, it puts them aware and can possibly help avoid it.

  11. Any existing mistrust of scientific professionals is the result of damage caused by experiments such as Tuskegee, and is extremely ingrained in these people’s minds. As a result, it is absolutely crucial to promote openness and informed consent as two main principles in any scientific research procedure. Knowing all possible consequences, risks, and rates of success involved will enable patients to make the best decisions for their health, and thus science can proceed without infringing on patients’ well being. Human autonomy should take priority over the need for prompt scientific results.

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