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Bioethics 101

Recommended Reading

April 22, 2014

A New Edition of Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy is Available

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy (Volume 17, No. 2, May 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Neither property right nor heroic gift, neither sacrifice nor aporia: the benefit of the theoretical lens of sharing in donation ethics” by Kristin Zeiler
  • “The relevance of the philosophical ‘mind–body problem’ for the status of psychosomatic medicine: a conceptual analysis of the biopsychosocial model” by Lukas Van Oudenhove & Stefaan Cuypers
  • “Written institutional ethics policies on euthanasia: an empirical-based organizational-ethical framework” by Joke Lemiengre, et al.
  • “Diagnosing mental disorders and saving the normal” by Fredrik Svenaeus
  • “Empathy’s blind spot” by Jan Slaby
  • “Empathy as a necessary condition of phronesis: a line of thought for medical ethics” by Fredrik Svenaeu

New Painkiller Rekindles Addiction Concerns

(New York Times) – The abuse of prescription painkillers has reached epidemic proportions in America. Nearly half of the nation’s 38,329 drug overdose deaths in 2010 involved painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These narcotics now kill more adults than heroin and cocaine combined, sending 420,000 Americans to emergency rooms each year. So many state health officials and advocacy groups were incredulous when the Food and Drug Administration approved just such a drug — against the advice of its own expert advisory committee.

Stem Cells Show Bizarre Absorption Property ‘Not Seen before in Cells’

(Medical News Today) – Scientists at the University of Cambridge in the UK have discovered that the nuclei of stem cells have the unusual ability to become thicker when stretched and thinner when compressed. The counterintuitive property – termed auxeticity – is already known to materials scientists, who see its application ranging from super-absorbent sponges and bulletproof vests to soundproofing.

Brain-Mapping Milestones

(New York Times) – As the Brain Initiative announced by President Obama a year ago continues to set priorities and gear up for what researchers hope will be a decade-long program to understand how the brain works, two projects independent of that effort reached milestones in their brain mapping work. Both projects, one public and one private, are examples of the widespread effort in neuroscience to create databases and maps of brain structure and function that can serve as a foundation for research.

A New Edition of Clinical Trials is Available

Clinical Trials (Volume 11, No. 2, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “An evaluation of the effectiveness of recruitment methods: The staying well after depression randomized controlled trial” by Adele Krusche, et al.
  • “Enrollment of racially/ethnically diverse participants in traumatic brain injury trials: Effect of availability of exception from informed consent” by Jose-Miguel Yamal, et al.
  • “Ethical issues in HIV prevention research with people who inject drugs” by Jeremy Sugarman, Scott M Rose, and David Metzger

A Loot at the Lives of American Nurses

(Washington Post) – Photographer and filmmaker Carolyn Jones created “The American Nurse” after publishing a coffee-table book on the subject two years ago, and the film builds on the same mix of powerful images with words of men and women whose lives are devoted to healing.

Pain Relievers Are Valuable, but Even Over-the-Counter Versions Can Be Hazardous

(Washington Post) – Almost 80 percent of adults say that they take some kind of pain medication at least once a week. But determining which pain drug we actually need, and how to use it, has become increasingly fraught. The news on prescription pain pills is even more worrisome. As prescriptions for powerful painkillers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone (Percocet, Vicodin, OxyContin and related generics) have shot up in recent years, there has been an increase in visits to emergency rooms and deaths from the illicit use of those drugs, known as opioids. Three-quarters of prescription drug overdoses (for which the death rate has more than tripled since 1990) are now attributed to painkillers.

Saudi Officials See Spike in MERS Coronavirus Cases

(CNN) – Saudi health officials are stepping up efforts to fight the Middle East respiratory symptom coronavirus, or MERS-CoV, after a recent spike in cases. Saudi Arabia confirmed more than 50 cases of the virus in the past week, at least seven of which were fatal. The Saudi Health Ministry says 13 new cases were reported Monday alone, bringing the total to 257. It is not clear why there was a sudden increase, said Dr. Abdullah Al-Asiri, assistant undersecretary at the Saudi Ministry of Health and a member of the Scientific Committee of Infectious Diseases.

A New Edition of Science, Technology & Human Values is Available

Science, Technology & Human Values (Volume 39, No. 3, May 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Genetic Testing, Birth, and the Quest for Health” by Joëlle Vailly
  • “Not Just Neoliberalism: Economization in US Science and Technology Policy” by Elizabeth Popp Berman
  • “The World’s Not Ready for This: Globalizing Selective Technologies” by Lauren Jade Martin

Kids Get Codeine in ER Despite Drawbacks: Some Get No Pain Relief or Face Complication Risk

(Associated Press) – Despite recommended limits on codeine use in children, the potent painkiller is prescribed for children in at least half a million emergency room visits each year, a study suggests. Use of the drug in that setting is hardly rampant – just 3 percent of kids’ ER visits resulted in a codeine prescription in 2010, the 10-year study found. But with more than 25 million ER visits by children each year, the authors say far too many kids are getting the drug when better options are available.

House Calls Are Making a Comebak

(New York Times) – A relic from the medical past — the house call — is returning to favor as part of some hospitals’ palliative care programs, which are sending teams of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains and other workers to patients’ homes after they are discharged. The goal is twofold: to provide better treatment and to cut costs.

A New Edition of Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine is Available

Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (Volume 107, No. 4, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “The Immigration Bill: Extending charging regimes and scapegoating the vulnerable will pose risks to public health” by Sarah Steele, et al.
  • “The case for change for British mental healthcare” Emma Stanton
  • “Medicine’s contract with society” Dinesh Bhugra
  • “Trends in hospital admission rates for whooping cough in England across five decades: database studies” Nick Haslam, Uy Hoang, and Michael J Goldacre

A New Edition of European Journal of Public Health is Available

European Journal of Public Health (Volume 24, No. 2, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Why the European Journal of Public Health will no longer publish tobacco industry-supported research” by Martin McKee and Peter Allebeck
  • “Risk of child obesity from parental obesity: analysis of repeat national cross-sectional surveys” by Philip McLoone and David S. Morrison
  • “Urban greenways have the potential to increase physical activity levels cost-effectively” by Mary Anne T. Dallat, et al.
  • “Risk factors for diagnosed intentional self-injury: a total population-based study” by Birgit Modén, et al.

A New Edition of Qualitative Health Research is Available

Qualitative Health Research (Volume 24, No. 4, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Homebirth Transfers in the United States: Narratives of Risk, Fear, and Mutual Accommodation” by Melissa Cheyney, Courtney Everson, and Paul Burcher
  • “Physical Intimate Partner Violence in Northern India” by Maya I. Ragavan, Kirti Iyengar, and Rebecca M. Wurtz
  • “’Doing the Impossible’: The Process of Recovery From Chronic Anorexia Nervosa” by Lisa Dawson, Paul Rhodes, and Stephen Touyz
  • “’I Think About Oprah’: Social Class Differences in Sources of Health Information” by Ann V. Bell
  • “Translating Infection Control Guidelines Into Practice: Implementation Process Within a Health Care Institution” by Victoria H. Raveis, et al.

Made in the USA: Childless Chinese Turn to American Surrogates

(NPR) – Chinese couples who are unable to have children are turning to a surprising place for help these days: America. By hiring American surrogates, Chinese couples get around a ban on surrogacy in China, as well as the country’s birth limits. It also guarantees their children something many wealthy Chinese want these days: a U.S. passport.

Researchers Unravel Complex Genetic Coding that Allows Embryonic Cells to Proliferate, Perform Myriad Biological Tasks

(News-Medical) – A team of interdisciplinary researchers took lung cells from the embryos of mice, choosing samples at different points in the development cycle. Using the new technique of single-cell genomic analysis, they recorded what genes were active in each cell at each point. Though they studied lung cells, their technique is applicable to any type of cell. “This lays out a playbook for how to do reverse tissue engineering,” said Stephen Quake, PhD, the Lee Otterson Professor in the School of Engineering and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

New Initiative Could Ban Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Europe

(Forbes) – Encouraged by a recent European Union court decision banning the patenting of technologies that use human embryonic stem cells, a group of pro-life organizations has launched an initiative which, if it passes, will cut funding of embryonic stem cell research in the E.U.

Why Is the Teen Birth Rate Falling?

(Pew Research) – The teen birth rate in the U.S. is at a record low, dropping below 30 births per 1,000 teen females for the first time since the government began collecting consistent data on births to teens ages 15-19, according to National Center for Health Statistics data. The all-time peak for teen births was 96.3 per 1,000 in 1957 in the midst of the “Baby Boom,” after having risen dramatically following the end of World War II. But the composition of teen mothers has changed drastically since then.

Virtual Doctor Visits Gaining Steam in “Geneticist Deserts”

(Scientific American) – These “geneticist deserts” are prompting a small but growing tide of virtual patient visits. In an age when virtual chats are relatively commonplace, videoconferencing for genetic consultation—telegenetics —is becoming a logical extension of what people already do with their Webcams and smartphones. Telegenetics saves patients time, the cost and burden of transport and, oftentimes, the need to find day care or take time off from work. For doctors, the approach can expand their reach while limiting travel. Moreover, they can bill for their services as if they were seeing patients in their offices with just a slightly different billing code.

Size-Based Chromatography Nanotechnology Technique for the Study of Living Cells

(Nanowerk News) – Using nanodot technology, Berkeley Lab researchers have demonstrated the first size-based form of chromatography that can be used to study the membranes of living cells. This unique physical approach to probing cellular membrane structures can reveal information critical to whether a cell lives or dies, remains normal or turns cancerous, that can’t be obtained through conventional microscopy.

A New Edition of Journal of Bioethical Inquiry is Available

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry (Volume 11, No. 1, March 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Investigating Research and Accessing Reproductive Material” by Trudo Lemmens & Bernadette J. Richards
  • “Market Liberalism in Health Care: A Dysfunctional View of Respecting “Consumer” Autonomy” by Michael A. Kekewich
  • “The Incredible Complexity of Being? Degrees of Influence, Coercion, and Control of the “Autonomy” of Severe and Enduring Anorexia Nervosa Patients” by Terry Carney
  • “Treatment Refusal in Anorexia Nervosa: The Hardest of Cases” by Christopher James Ryan & Sascha Callaghan
  • “Making Sense of Child Welfare When Regulating Human Reproductive Technologies” by John McMillan
  • “Understanding Selective Refusal of Eye Donation” by Mitchell Lawlor & Ian Kerridge


The Bioethics Poll
Should individuals and/or institutions be allowed to patent human genes?
Yes, with some qualifications

View results

Which area of research should more money be invested in:
Animal-Human Hybrids
Gene Therapy
Reproductive Technology
Stem Cell Research
"Therapeutic" Cloning
None of the above

View results

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