Medical ethics

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Do parents know enough about clinical trials to give informed consent? Sick child image via www.shutterstock.com.

Clinical trials for childhood cancer drugs are critical, but parents don’t always understand what they are signing up for

The dramatic improvements in survival for children with cancer depend on clinical trials, and these trials depend on parents understanding the possible risks and benefits involved.
Protesters outside Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Hospital show their support for the doctors refusing to release baby Asha until she has somewhere safe to go. AAP/Dan Peled

What will happen to baby Asha?

Doctors at Brisbane's Lady Cilento Children's Hospital are refusing to release a 12-month-old asylum seeker, highlighting a murky intersection of politics, ethics and law.
Thalidomide was used by the pregnant women – the population that turned out to be most vulnerable to its risks. Reuters pictures

Why did thalidomide’s makers ignore warnings about their drug?

Thalidomide's manufacturer, Chemie Grünenthal, marketed the drug as safe for pregnant women despite reports it was causing malformations in newborns. Why such blatant denial?
The idea of ‘family balancing’ is based on the belief that children come in two genders that have essentially different traits. Jason Pratt/Flickr

Choosing children’s sex is an exercise in sexism

The risk of harm in sex selection stems from the fact that parents don't desire any child, they want a child of a particular sex, who is to remain within the limits of binary gender roles.
Participating in a HIV cure trial offers few benefits for the individual but many for the community. Morgan DDL/Shutterstock

Risks vs rewards: why people with HIV volunteer for ‘cure’ research

A recent survey of people living with HIV in the United Kingdom found that over half would participate in a clinical study to develop a cure for HIV despite this posing a risk to their health.
It’s time to go beyond improving the mechanisms for implementing existing laws. KieferPix/Shutterstock/Shutterstock

Three ethical ways to increase organ donation in Australia

Australia’s organ donation levels are low by international standards. At least twenty countries achieve better donation rates than Australia's 16.1 donors per million population (DPM).
How much risk can health workers be asked to take on? Mike Segar/Reuters

When it comes to Ebola, how much risk is too much?

Taking care of sick people has always involved personal risk. From plague to tuberculosis to smallpox to SARS, health-care workers have put themselves in danger in the course of fulfilling their duties…
Different code for military medics? Imperial War Museum

A century on, do civilian and military medical ethics differ?

A century ago the world went to war. When the conflagration finally ended 10m soldiers lay dead. Among the fallen were 18 medical doctors who had trained at St George’s Hospital and countless more from…
Ron Barnes, Doug Cope, Eileen Webber and Bob Lugton feature in ABC TV’s 4 Corners documentary The Walking Wounded. The Walking Wounded, Four Corners

The Walking Wounded calls for a rethink of what we most value

Starting with Karl Marx, many thinkers have pointed out that the creative potential of the capitalist economic system comes at a cost – the lack of inherent ethical scruples to limit the inexorable logic…
Time to unlock intelligence potential.

Genetic screening to enhance IQ should be embraced

There could be a way of predicting – and preventing – which children will go on to have low intelligence, according to the findings of a study researchers at Cardiff University presented on Monday. They…
Lawfully allowing a patient to die should be kept distinct from euthanasia. Shutterstock

Withdrawing life-prolonging treatment not the same as killing

There is a clear legal distinction in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States between withdrawing life-prolonging treatment – such as ventilation for a person who can’t breathe unaided, or…
Marlise’s husband and parents say her body is being used as an incubator. Image from shutterstock.com

Brain death, pregnancy and ethics: the case of Marlise Munoz

In November, 33-year-old Texas woman Marlise Munoz collapsed at her Fort Worth home after suffering a suspected blood clot in her lungs. She was later declared brain dead. When the hospital determined…

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