February
21
 

IN THE WAKE OF THE HWANG DEBACLE

  • A new South Korean science and technology minister wants to give Hwang Woo-suk and his team a second chance. Kim Woo-sik says that the scientist may have disgraced himself, but he had still achieved a great deal. "These techniques should not be discarded," he told the National Assembly. "I was moved by Hwang's comments that he wants to produce tangible results and that he is ready to serve even as a rank-and-file researcher towards that end." click here to read whole article and make comments



  •  
    February
    21
     

    BELGIAN EUTHANASIA RISING

    Belgian doctors reported nearly 400 cases of euthanasia in 2005, up from about 200 after it was legalised in 2002. However, Wim Distelmans, of Brussels Free University, claims that the true number of cases is about five times higher than the official figures. About 80% of Belgian euthanasia is done by Flemish doctors, because they have the support of a good network, the Life Ending Information Forum, which is based in neighbouring Holland.

    And a Belgian doctor has defied the existing law by publishing an article in the medical magazine Huisarts (Family Doctor), stating that he had killed an 87-year-old demented patient. Dr Marc Cosyns, a general practitioner and lecturer in end-of-life care at the University of Ghent, said that he wants to spark a debate about providing euthanasia for demented patients and children.

    click here to read whole article and make comments



     
    February
    21
     

    DETAILS EMERGE OF KATRINA’S MERCY KILLINGS

    Rumours of patients in a hospital being euthanased in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans are probably true, according to secret court documents reviewed by National Public Radio. Although details are still sketchy, it appears that the killings took place on the seventh floor of Memorial Medical Centre, which was leased out to LifeCare Hospitals, a private company providing long-term patient care. Conditions there were appalling. The building was surrounded by water, all power had failed, looters were outside, the temperature was about 100?F, the plumbing had broken down, and the stench was overpowering.

    Police were forcing people to leave the hospital, but it seemed impossible to evacuate about eight patients on the seventh floor. According to statements by four workers in the documents obtained by NPR, the evacuation plan for the seventh floor was "not to leave any living patients behind". It is unclear who gave the order, but a doctor, Anna Pou, and two… click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    February
    21
     

    BIOETHICIST SLAMS CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION

    Amongst the paradoxes of contemporary bioethics are simultaneous appeals to individual conscience as the arbiter of murky moral issues and disdain for conscientious objection by doctors. Oxford bioethicist Julian Savulescu is squarely in the second camp. In a controversial recent article in the BMJ, he contends that "a doctor's conscience has little place in the delivery of modern medical care".

    What should be provided to patients is defined by the law and consideration of the just distribution of finite medical resources... If people are not prepared to offer legally permitted, efficient, and beneficial care to a patients because it conflicts with their values, they should not be doctors."

    Most of the decisions which Professor Savulescu has in mind revolve around reproductive issues, such as doctors refusing to do abortions, especially late-term abortions, refusing to give reproductive advice to gay couples, or refusing to prescribe emergency contraception. He gives four reasons to support his stand:




     
    February
    21
     

    MIT RESEARCHERS MULTIPLY ADULT STEM CELLS

    One of the drawbacks of adult stem cells is that they have proved hard to "expand", or multiply, in the lab. Now MIT researchers have taken a step forward by using a cocktail of growth factors to increase the rate of multiplication by mouse bone marrow stem cells about 30-fold.

    "One of the major issues for haematopoietic and bone marrow transplantation has been the inability to get sufficient numbers of cells because they just don't want to grow in the laboratory," Bruce Bunnell, of Tulane University, told HealthDayNews. "In general, we get maybe a two- to five-fold expansion, and for most patients and most transplants you need many more cells. The ability to generate many more cells would more than likely significantly enhance the efficiency at which engraftment occurs. The ability to go from five- fold to 30-fold is a tremendous advancement."

    Experiments like this could lead to important advances in stem cell medicine. It would increase the efficiency of… click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    February
    21
     

    IN BRIEF: sex selection; PGD; face transplant

    India sex selection: Despite an increasingly skewed sex ratio resulting from the abortion of girl foetuses and despite harsh laws banning sex selection, almost no Indian doctors are being prosecuted. Health activists complain that only 300 doctors have been prosecuted since the law was passed 12 years ago, and only four have been convicted. "There is confidence, almost arrogance, among some doctors that they can get away with this," says Arvind Kumar, a senior government official in Hyderabad. click here to read whole article and make comments



     
    January
    24
     

    BIOEDGE ON HOLIDAYS

    CALIFORNIA GIRDS UP FOR DEBATE OVER ASSISTED SUICIDE

    Legislators in California are preparing for a debate over assisted suicide, following last week's Supreme Court ruling which supported Oregon's 9-year-old statute. However, neither supporters nor opponents of assisted suicide feel confident of victory. Although polls show that 70% of Californians support the idea that "incurably ill patients have the right to ask for and get life-ending medication", previous initiatives have failed -- in 1992 at the ballot box and in 1999 in the State Legislature.

    The Oregon ruling was also based on states rights issues, not a supposed right to die. It was encouraging news for assisted suicide advocates, but hardly an endorsement of the movement.

    Supporters are also testing the waters in the other West Coast state, Washington, although 15 years ago, voters rejected an assisted suicide initiative there, as well. At least two Democrats are thinking of introducing… click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    January
    24
     

    FLOOD OF ELDERLY TO FILL CALIFORNIA’S PRISONS

     Australian euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke recently mused that euthanasia could become the "last frontier in prison reform". This is far from likely, but California's ballooning budget for geriatric prison inmates shows that it might seem plausible to some people. Of California's 168,000 prison inmates, one in six, or 28,470, are in for life, mostly as a result of tough sentencing laws.

    The more elderly, the more costs," says Dr Nadim Khoury, chief deputy for clinical services at the California Medical Facility. There's no debate about it." The government estimates that by 2022 geriatric inmates will make up 16% of the prison population, rising from 5% at the moment. Older inmates have a much higher incidence of expensive ailments like diabetes, hepatitis, hypertension and liver disease. The average expense for inmates is US$34,000 per year, but older ones cost $70,000 and severely ill inmates can cost much more. The state prison system needs 100 to 200 elderly-care beds, says… click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    January
    24
     

    ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE

    About 60 people in England die alone, uncared for and in poverty each week, according to a report by the health spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, Paul Burstow. The study, based on a survey of 182 English councils, which are supposed to bury people who die alone without any family to make arrangements, found that men were 2 times more likely to die on their own than women. It is estimated that 3.5 million people over 65 live alone in the UK.

    Mr Burstow commented that "It is an indictment of society that too many people are left to fade away, unable to make ends meet and lonely on the fringe of our communities. We all have a responsibility to look out and care for vulnerable neighbours, friends and relatives, not just at this time of year." click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    January
    24
     

    BELGIAN EUTHANASIA DOC AT WORK IN FRANCE

    A Belgian surgeon who has admitted euthanasing several patients illegally in her own country is being questioned over the death of a 74-year-old patient in France. Police allege that the doctor deliberately gave the woman an insulin overdose and she died two days later. The doctor suffers from depression and alcoholism and was imprisoned for four months in Belgium for fraud. She has also admitted that she euthanased several patients, including her own grandmother, before Belgium legalised euthanasia in 2002. click here to read whole article and make comments



     

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