Articles on Medical ethics

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Parents’ role as medical decision-makers is sometimes questioned when they don’t choose the recommended treatment for their child. from shutterstock.com

When parents disagree with doctors on a child’s treatment, who should have the final say?

It is ethical for doctors to accept a treatment option parents want – providing it is good enough – rather than insisting on what they believe is the best possible treatment for the child.
Until 2013, laws in every Australian state and territory allowed people to be forced to have psychiatric treatment even if they competently refused it. from shutterstock.com

Should we be forcing people with severe mental illness to have treatment they don’t want?

Until 2013, Australian state and territory laws allowed forcing people into psychiatric treatment if it was thought necessary to protect them from serious harm – even if they competently refused it.
Bone-marrow transplants to treat leukaemia are one of the miniscule number of stem-cell treatments that have a strong evidence base. from shutterstock.com

What Australia needs to do to protect consumers from untested stem-cell treatments

Australians clinics are offering stem-cell-based anti-ageing and cosmetic therapies that have not been clinically tested. Here's what we need to do to ensure consumers don't get ripped off, or worse.
Will China be the first to genetically enhance future generations? Jianan Yu/Reuters

The future of genetic enhancement is not in the West

Regulations, funding and public opinion around genetically enhancing future generations vary from country to country. Here's why China may be poised to be the pioneer.
Kidneys for donation are in short supply, via Shutterstock. From www.shuttertock.com

Is it ethical to purchase human organs?

A shortage of organs for donation has led some to ask: would establishing a market help? That, however, raises another question: would it also harm?
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…

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