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April 30, 2012

E.R. Doctors Face Dilemma on Painkillers

Dr. Bruce Lobitz, an attending physician in the emergency department at Upstate Carolina Medical Center in Gaffney, S.C., sees about 10 patients a week complaining of toothaches. “The bane of our existence,” he calls them. (NY Times)

Genes May Link Disparate Diseases

Diseases that strike different parts of the body—and that don’t seem to resemble each other at all—may actually have a lot in common. (Wall Street Journal)

Four Medical Implants that Escaped FDA Scrutiny

Medical devices sustain and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans. But as the over $100 billion-a-year industry pushes thousands of devices to market every year, reports of faulty devices, repeat surgeries, and recalls have increased. (Scientific American)

Number of US newborns with drug withdrawal rises as more mothers abuse painkillers, heroin

Less than a month old, Savannah Dannelley scrunches her tiny face into a scowl as a nurse gently squirts a dose of methadone into her mouth. The infant is going through drug withdrawal and is being treated with the same narcotic prescribed for her mother to fight addiction to powerful prescription painkillers. (Washington Post)

Texas couple pen a ‘bucket list’ for their baby with fatal illness

Mike and Laura Canahuati’s blog about their nearly 6-month-old daughter, who is expected to die by age 2 because of a genetic disorder, began as an efficient way to keep family and close friends in touch about baby Avery’s health. (CNN)

Will Gattaca Come True?

In 2003, back when such things remained unpredictable, a woman gave birth to a baby boy with Down syndrome. Her family was shocked. She had undergone the standard screening tests while pregnant—a blood test followed by an ultrasound—but the results had come back negative. (Slate)

April 27, 2012

Mich. woman kept on respirator for a month to allow for birth of twin boys in Grand Rapids

Vance Terrell offered encouraging words to his pregnant sister during visits to a western Michigan hospital. It didn’t matter that she couldn’t see or hear him, and would never hold her twin sons. (Washington Post)

Cells reprogrammed to mend a broken heart

Fixing a broken heart has never been easy, but damaged mice hearts can now be repaired by transforming injured cells into healthy beating muscle cells. The approach sidesteps the use of stem cells and could lead to new heart treatments. (New Scientist)

State abortion laws place unprecedented limits, requirements on doctors

Several states recently continued their push to implement more restrictions on when doctors are allowed to provide abortions, in some cases effectively cutting off access to the procedures, according to opponents. (American Medical News)

Report: Consumers and businesses to get more than $1B in health insurance rebates under law

More than 3 million health insurance policyholders and thousands of employers will share $1.3 billion in rebates this year, thanks to President Barack Obama’s health care law, a nonpartisan research group said Thursday. (Washington Post)

April 26, 2012

Will we ever… correct diseases before birth?

Every year, millions of people are born with debilitating genetic disorders, a result of inheriting just one faulty gene from their parents. They may have been dealt a dud genetic hand, but they do not have to stick with it. (BBC)

Teacher Fired After Receiving Fertility Treatments

A Catholic school teacher in Indiana is suing a diocese there, claiming that she was unlawfully terminated after school officials learned she was undergoing fertility treatments to become pregnant. (ABC News)

Contraception study says 13-year-olds should get the pill in certain scenarios

Girls as young as 13 should be able to walk into a high-street chemist and get the contraceptive pill if they want it, an evaluation of an NHS pilot scheme has concluded. (Guardian)

Recycling transplanted organs? Doctors have attempted it with livers, hearts and kidneys

It turns out you can recycle just about anything these days — even kidneys and other organs donated for transplants. (Washington Post)

New Issue of Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics is Now Available

Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics (Volume 40, Issue 1, Spring 2012) is now available by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Must We Ration Health Care for the Elderly?” by Daniel Callahan, 10–16.
  • “Can Health Care Rationing Ever Be Rational?” by David A. Gruenewald, 17–25.
  • “Social Justice, Health Disparities, and Culture in the Care of the Elderly” by Peggye Dilworth-Anderson, Geraldine Pierre and Tandrea S. Hilliard, 26–32.
  • “Looking for Better Health in All the Wrong Places: The Road to “Equality” Hits a Dead End” by Tom Miller, 33–44.
  • “Physicians Should “Assist in Suicide” When It Is Appropriate” by Timothy E. Quill, 57–65.
  • “Are the Distinctions Drawn in the Debate about End-of-Life Decision Making “Principled”? If Not, How Much Does It Matter?” by Yale Kamisar, 66–84.
  • “Public Health Ethics Theory: Review and Path to Convergence” by Lisa M. Lee, 85–98.
  • “The Roles and Responsibilities of Physicians in Patients’ Decisions about Unproven Stem Cell Therapies” by Aaron D. Levine and Leslie E. Wolf, 122–134.
  • “Currents in Contemporary Bioethics” by Yann Joly, Clarissa Allen and Bartha M. Knoppers, 143–146.

New Issue of Journal of Medical Ethics is Now Available

Journal of Medical Ethics (Volume 38, Issue 4, April 2012) is now available by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Psychiatric ethics and the methodological virtues of bioethics” by John R McMillan.
  • “When four principles are too many: bloodgate, integrity and an action-guiding model of ethical decision making in clinical practice” by William Muirhead.
  • “Development of clinical ethics services in the UK: a national survey” by Anne Marie Slowther, Leah McClimans, Charlotte Price.
  • “Just implementation of human papillomavirus vaccination” by Erik Malmqvist, Kari Natunen, Matti Lehtinen, Gert Helgesson.
  • “Ethics requirements and impact factor” by Philippe Charlier, Valérie Bridoux, Laurence Watier, Melissa Ménétrier, Geoffroy Lorin de la Grandmaison, Christian Hervé.
  • “Palliative care registers: infringement on human rights?” by Rosemarie Anthony-Pillai.

April 25, 2012

New fertility microscope allows parents to watch baby from conception

A sophisticated new microscope makes it possible for fertility doctors to monitor the developing fertilised egg continuously for up to five days. (Telegraph)

Genetic testing and disease: Would you want to know?

Kristen Powers finishes packing her lunch and opens the kitchen door to leave for high school with her brother, Nate, in tow. (USA Today)

Brain Implant Helps Paralyzed Hand Move

The dream of true cybernetics — merging man with machine — just got a bit closer. Scientists at Northwestern University built a device that can send signals from the brain directly to paralyzed muscles, causing them to move by thought. This technology could help patients who have suffered spinal cord injuries regain the use of their limbs. (Discovery News)

Infertile Canadians buy frozen human eggs from U.S.

Canadian couples with fertility problems can buy frozen eggs online from U.S. egg banks and have them shipped to clinics here, thanks to advances in reproductive technology and a void in government regulation. (CBC News)

IVF drugs linked to childhood cancer

Every year tens of thousands of women in Britain undergo fertility treatment, that usually involves them receiving drugs to prompt their ovaries into producing more eggs. More than 13,000 babies are born annually thanks to assisted fertility technology. (Telegraph)


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

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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

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