Category: Medical Ethics

Tribalism and Medical Ethics

Science is intended to discover the “is”, not the “ought;” facts, not values. Science can’t tell us whether an action is moral; it can only provide evidence to help inform moral decisions. For instance, some people who believe abortion is immoral reject birth control methods that prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum on the grounds that it constitutes abortion; science can determine...

/ January 14, 2014

An update on the case of Sarah Hershberger: Parental rights trump the right of a child with cancer to live

Five weeks ago, when last I touched on the case of Sarah Hershberger, the now 11-year-old Amish girl from Medina County, Ohio near Akron with lymphoblastic lymphoma whose parents had taken her off of chemotherapy after only two rounds, reports had been coming out of the cancer quackery underground that Sarah’s parents, Andy and Anna Hershberger, had fled to avoid a court...

/ December 9, 2013

The Nuances of Informed Consent

Modern medical ethics are built upon the concept of informed consent. This is not, however, as straightforward a concept as it may seem. Physicians and health care providers have a duty to provide informed consent to their patients or their patients’ guardians, which means that they have to inform them appropriately about the risks and benefits of their recommendations and interventions. This...

/ November 13, 2013
Stanislaw Burzynski, pretending to do science.

Revealed by the FDA: The results of the most recent inspection of the Burzynski Clinic

The results of the latest FDA inspection of the Burzynski Clinic are in. They aren't pretty. Why is this cancer quack still allowed to do his bogus clinical trials?

/ November 11, 2013

The sad saga of an Amish girl with a curable cancer whose parents are refusing chemotherapy in favor of “natural healing”

Over at my not-so-super secret other blog, one common type of story that I’ve blogged about has been that of the “chemotherapy refusenik.” It’s a topic I write about here not infrequently as well. People like Suzanne Somers and Chris Wark come to mind, mostly people who had effective surgical therapy for their cancers and then decided to forego adjuvant chemotherapy in...

/ November 4, 2013

Integrative Medicine’s Collateral Damage

Integrative medicine combines the practice of medicine with alternative medicine. Proponents tend to take a paragraph or two to say this, but that is what remains when boiled down to its essence. By putting this more concise definition together with Tim Minchin’s often-quoted observation about alternative medicine, you get: integrative medicine is the practice of medicine combined with medicine that either has...

/ October 17, 2013

Answering Our Critics, Part 2 of 2: What’s the Harm?

Last week I posted a list of 30 rebuttals to many of the recurrent criticisms that are made by people who don’t like what we say on SBM. I thought #30 deserved its own post; this is it. At the end, I’ve added a few items to the original list. What’s the harm in people trying CAM? Science-based medicine has been criticized...

/ October 1, 2013

When urgency to cure beats research ethics, bad things happen

Editor’s note: Just for your edification, here’s a “bonus” post. True, you might have seen this recently elsewhere, but it’s so appropriate for SBM that I couldn’t resist sharing it with those of you who might not read the other source where this was published recently. 🙂 I’ve written a lot about Stanislaw Burzynski and what I consider to be his unethical...

/ August 26, 2013

The Overuse of Antibiotics for Viral Infections in Children

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” -H. L. Mencken As I sit in an apartment full of unpacked boxes and grumpy children, only a few days removed from driving 1,600 miles to a 3rd floor walk-up and a better life just outside of Boston, I find the task of writing a post somewhat daunting....

/ August 2, 2013
UBiome_-_Microbiome_Sequencing_Gut_Bacteria_Sample_Kit_(17238556660)

Meet Your Microbes: uBiome Offers New Service

We are not alone. Walt Whitman didn’t know how right he was when he said, “I contain multitudes.” The microbes on and in our bodies outnumber our own cells 10:1.  Perhaps that creeps you out. Perhaps that makes you curious to know just who all these billions of creatures are that are using your body for a home and a transportation device....

/ June 25, 2013