Journal: BMC medical ethics
Since 2010 the People’s Republic of China has been engaged in an effort to reform its system of organ transplantation by developing a voluntary organ donation and allocation infrastructure. This has required a shift in the procurement of organs sourced from China’s prison and security apparatus to hospital-based voluntary donors declared dead by neurological and/or circulatory criteria. Chinese officials announced that from January 1, 2015, hospital-based donors would be the sole source of organs. This paper examines the availability, transparency, integrity, and consistency of China’s official transplant data.
BACKGROUND: Due to the important role of depression in major illnesses, screening measures for depression are commonly used in medical research. The protocol for managing participants with positive screens is unclear and raises ethical concerns. The aim of this article is to identify and critically discuss the ethical issues that arise when a positive screen for depression is detected, and offer some guidance on managing these issues. DISCUSSION: Deciding on whether to report positive screens to healthcare practitioners is both an ethical and a pragmatic dilemma. Evidence suggests that reporting positive depression screens should only be considered in the context of collaborative care. Possible adverse effects, such as the impact of false-positive results, potentially inappropriate labelling, and potentially inappropriate treatment also need to be considered. If possible, the psychometric properties of the selected screening measure should be determined in the target population, and a threshold for depression that minimises the rate of false-positive results should be chosen. It should be clearly communicated to practitioners that screening scores are not diagnostic for depression, and they should be informed about the diagnostic accuracy of the measure. Research participants need to be made aware of the consequences of the detection of high scores on screening measures, and to be fully informed about the implications of the research protocol. SUMMARY: Further research is needed and the experiences of researchers, participants, and practitioners need to be collated before the value of reporting positive screens for depression can be ascertained. In developing research protocols, the ethical challenges highlighted should be considered. Participants must be agreeable to the agreed protocol and efforts should be made to minimise potentially adverse effects.
Implicit biases involve associations outside conscious awareness that lead to a negative evaluation of a person on the basis of irrelevant characteristics such as race or gender. This review examines the evidence that healthcare professionals display implicit biases towards patients.
Evidence-based medicine (EBM) has always required integration of patient values with ‘best’ clinical evidence. It is widely recognized that scientific practices and discoveries, including those of EBM, are value-laden. But to date, the science of EBM has focused primarily on methods for reducing bias in the evidence, while the role of values in the different aspects of the EBM process has been almost completely ignored.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide (EAS) have been legally possible in the Netherlands since 2001, provided that statutory due care criteria are met, including: (a) voluntary and well-considered request; (b) unbearable suffering without prospect of improvement; © informing the patient; (d) lack of a reasonable alternative; (e) independent second physician’s opinion. ‘Unbearable suffering’ must have a medical basis, either somatic or psychiatric, but there is no requirement of limited life expectancy. All EAS cases must be reported and are scrutinised by regional review committees (RTE). The purpose of this study was to investigate whether any particular difficulties arise when the EAS due care criteria are applied to patients with an intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorder.
The increasing push to commercialize university research has emerged as a significant science policy challenge. While the socio-economic benefits of increased and rapid research commercialization are often emphasized in policy statements and discussions, there is less mention or discussion of potential risks. In this paper, we highlight such potential risks and call for a more balanced assessment of the commercialization ethos and trends.
Implementation science research, especially when using participatory and co-design approaches, raises unique challenges for research ethics committees. Such challenges may be poorly addressed by approval and governance mechanisms that were developed for more traditional research approaches such as randomised controlled trials.
The increase in the volume of research conducted in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC), has brought a renewed international focus on processes for ethical conduct of research. Several programs have been initiated to strengthen the capacity for research ethics in LMIC. However, most such programs focus on individual training or development of ethics review committees. The objective of this paper is to present an approach to institutional capacity assessment in research ethics and application of this approach in the form of a case study from an institution in Africa.
In Victoria, Australia, the law regulating abortion was reformed in 2008, and a clause (‘Section 8’) was introduced requiring doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion to refer women to another provider. This study reports the views of abortion experts on the operation of Section 8 of the Abortion Law Reform Act in Victoria.
BACKGROUND: In 2009, Dr. Paolo Zamboni proposed chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) as a possible cause of multiple sclerosis (MS). Although his theory and the associated treatment (“liberation therapy”) received little more than passing interest in the international scientific and medical communities, his ideas became the source of tremendous public and political tension in Canada. The story moved rapidly from mainstream media to social networking sites. CCSVI and liberation therapy swiftly garnered support among patients and triggered remarkable and relentless advocacy efforts. Policy makers have responded in a variety of ways to the public’s call for action. DISCUSSION: We present three different perspectives on this evolving story, that of a health journalist who played a key role in the media coverage of this issue, that of a health law and policy scholar who has closely observed the unfolding public policy developments across the country, and that of a medical ethicist who sits on an expert panel convened by the MS Society of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to assess the evidence as it emerges. SUMMARY: This story raises important questions about resource allocation and priority setting in scientific research and science policy. The growing power of social media represents a new level of citizen engagement and advocacy, and emphasizes the importance of open debate about the basis on which such policy choices are made. It also highlights the different ways evidence may be understood, valued and utilized by various stakeholders and further emphasizes calls to improve science communication so as to support balanced and informed decision-making.