The Guardian reports on an accusation by a former Muskegon County, Michigan health official claiming that a Catholic healthcare provider forced five women between August 2009 and December 2010 to undergo dangerous miscarriages by giving them no other option. Catholic hospitals must follow the Ethical Health Directives issued by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and with consolidation in health care providers, more and more Americans are affected. [more inside]
"The possibility of withholding care represents a departure from the 'do everything' philosophy in most American hospitals and a return to a view that held sway a century ago, when doctors were at greater risk of becoming infected by treating dying patients. 'This is another example of how this 21st century viral threat has pulled us back into the 19th century,' said medical historian Dr. Howard Markel of the University of Michigan.
Widespread fraud has been discovered in the case of an Indian generic drug manufacturer that makes generic Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) and many other drugs. Ranbaxy has "pleaded guilty to seven federal criminal counts of selling adulterated drugs with intent to defraud." [more inside]
From the Northwestern University press release: A new paper just published in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry uses extensive Freedom of Information Act findings to detail an extremely troubling off-label medical intervention employed in the U.S. on pregnant women to intentionally engineer the development of their fetuses for sex normalization purposes. [more inside]
The Cyclops Child is an essay published in Psychology Today by Dr. Frederic Neuman, M. D., detailing the brief life and death of a child born with Holoprosencephaly in the 1960s. Ford Vox, writing for The Atlantic, critiques the essay, and Dr. Neuman has published an addendum in response to the ensuing medical ethics debate.
From 1946 to 1948, mental health patients and prisoners in Guatemala were infected with syphilis so that vaccines could be tested. [more inside]
The Torture Papers. "In the most comprehensive investigation to date of health professionals' involvement in the CIA's 'enhanced' interrogation program (EIP), Physicians For Human Rights has uncovered evidence that indicates the Bush administration apparently conducted illegal and unethical human experimentation and research on detainees in CIA custody. The apparent experimentation and research appear to have been performed to provide legal cover for torture, as well as to help justify and shape future procedures and policies governing the use of the 'enhanced' interrogation techniques. The PHR report, Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Evidence of Experimentation in the 'Enhanced' Interrogation Program, is the first to provide evidence that CIA medical personnel engaged in the crime of illegal experimentation after 9/11, in addition to the previously disclosed crime of torture." [more inside]
"Starting Friday, Walgreens' shoppers can buy an over-the-counter genetics test from Pathway Genomics at 7,500 stores across the country. Priced at $20 to $30, the kit claims to offer information on users' possibility of developing conditions like Alzheimer's disease, breast cancer, or diabetes. Access to the scientific analysis online, however, costs another $79 to $179"* [video | 02:31]. "But doctors and geneticists fear the worst for this new over-the-counter access to genetic testing. With no physician to interpret the results of the test, and no FDA regulation of how results are processed or delivered, there is the potential for consumers to misinterpret what their risk really means for their health and their lifestyle."* [more inside]
Plan B, also called the "morning after pill" is an emergency contraceptive. Some pharmacists have refused to stock and fill the prescription, citing ethical reservations, causing the AMA to affirmatively state its support for the contraceptive and urge pharmacists to sell it and for the FDA to allow over-the-counter distribution. A partial victory was achieved in 2006 to allow OTC dispensing without a doctor's note for those over 18 years of age. However, some pharmacists continued to refuse to fill the prescription, including the owners of Ralph's Thriftway pharmacy chain in Washington State in 2006, causing some to boycott the chain. Ralph's was later found by the Washington State Board of Pharmacy to have violated the state pharmacy code in so doing. Ralph's lawsuit to block the ruling reached the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which has now ruled against the pharmacy chain, saying ALL pharmacists must stock and dispense the contraceptive. [more inside]
"The person is not dead yet," said Jerry A. Menikoff, an associate professor of law, ethics and medicine at the University of Kansas. "They are going to be dead, but we should be honest and say that we're starting to remove the organs a few minutes before they meet the legal definition of death."
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In addition to giving DCD donors morphine, valium and other drugs to make sure they do not suffer as life support is withdrawn, doctors often insert a large tube into an artery and inject drugs such as the blood thinner heparin to help preserve the organs. Some say those measures may hasten death.
Teen cancer patient, Starchild Abraham Cherrix, in a custody battle between his parents and and the Accomack County (Virginia) Social Services Department, has lost his battle to choose his own treatment for Hodgkin's disease. A judge has ruled that the 16-year-old must report to a hospital by Tuesday and accept treatment that doctors deem necessary.
Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse in Guantánamo The International Committee of the Red Cross has charged in confidential reports to the United States government that the American military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion "tantamount to torture" on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The finding that the handling of prisoners detained and interrogated at Guantánamo amounted to torture came after a visit by a Red Cross inspection team that spent most of last June in Guantánamo. The team of humanitarian workers, which included experienced medical personnel, also asserted that some doctors and other medical workers at Guantánamo were participating in planning for interrogations, in what the report called "a flagrant violation of medical ethics." Doctors and medical personnel conveyed information about prisoners' mental health and vulnerabilities to interrogators, the report said, sometimes directly, but usually through a group called the Behavioral Science Consultation Team, or B.S.C.T. The team, known informally as Biscuit, is composed of psychologists and psychological workers who advise the interrogators, the report said. From the Red Cross : The ICRC's work at Guantanamo Bay - Related: From Association of the Bar of the City of New York, a pdf: Torture by Proxy: International and Domestic Law Applicable to Extraordinary Renditions-- Representative Edward J.] Markey pledges battle on rendition practice