Category: Medical Ethics

When healing turns into killing: religious and philosophical exemptions from parental accountability

Parents have a fundamental right to guide the upbringing of their children protected under the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. This includes the choice of medical care for the child. They also have a First Amendment right to the free exercise of their religious beliefs, including the right to care for their children in accordance with the tenets of their...

/ March 13, 2014

Measles gets a helping hand

In a recent post I shared a bit of my personal, near-death experience with measles during the US epidemic of 1989-1991. As I describe in that post, I contracted a very serious measles infection at the end of medical school, and was highly infectious when I interviewed for a residency position at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Like others my age who received an...

/ February 28, 2014

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
Amish

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

Sarah Hershberger, an Amish girl with leukemia, is refusing chemotherapy, and her parents are supporting her. Unfortunately, it looks as though the State of Ohio will let this child die.

/ 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
Amish

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

In Ohio, an Amish girl named Sarah Hershberger is refusing chemotherapy for her leukemia, and her parents are supporting her. Akron Children's Hospital has instituted legal action to ensure that she receives life-saving treatment. As a motley crew of consisting of supporters of alternative medicine and anti-government libertarians are rallying to Sarah's cause. Will this girl receive the life-saving treatment she needs?

/ 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