July
25
 

The IVF industry must go green

Free fertility treatment should be banned for those making lifestyle reproductive choices, such as  sterilisation reversal or single motherhood for fertile women. And fertility clinics should be subject to carbon capping schemes, in a bid to help curb climate change, argues a theologian in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Only those who are medically infertile through no fault of their own should be eligible for government  funded treatment, suggests Cristina Richie, a theology PhD candidate at Boston College, Massachusetts.  

Richie singles out fertility treatments because  they not only produce a carbon footprint as a result of the resource they consume, but also create a  carbon legacy.

And she points out in an accompanying podcast: “Assisted reproductive technologies are typically  given in places with enormously large carbon footprints.” The US, for example, is the world’s second largest carbon emitter, producing 20 metric tonnes of  carbon… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
25
 

A psychiatrist who saved lives?

 

Is this one of those “only in America” stories? On Thursday afternoon in a Philadelphia, a man brandishing a pistol stormed the psychiatric ward of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital. He shot dead his caseworker, 53-year-old Theresa Hunt and fired at his psychiatrist, Dr Lee Silverman, grazing his head. The doctor ducked for cover behind a desk.

But this was not going to be another mass shooting. Dr Silverman was ready for this. He pulled his own pistol out of a desk drawer and returned fire. He shot the patient, Richard Plotts, twice in the torso and once in the arm. Plotts collapsed and bystanders disarmed him.

It was like a script written by the National Rifle Association. The local police chief told the media: “without a doubt, I believe the doctor saved lives. Without that firearm, this guy (the patient) could have went out in the… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
25
 

Does dress matter in medicine?

An ongoing debate amongst physicians has broken into academic discourse – should doctors dress formally for clinical practice?

Microbiologist Stephanie Dancer says ‘yes’.  In an article in the British Medical Journal Dancer asserts that  ‘dressing down’ diminishes the dignitas of the medical profession and could be see as an indication of carelessness: 

“Doctors are members of a distinguished profession and should dress accordingly. Untidiness erodes the image of doctors as responsible and competent…[it] might be taken as a flashing neon sign that says “I don’t care.”

Dancer also claims that scruffy dress could contribute to low hygiene standards in hospitals: “scruffiness, however defined, also intimates a lack of personal hygiene and correspondingly lower standards of hygienic behavior.”

Two Manchester University medical ethicists, Cesar Palacios-Gonzalez and David R Lawrence, have written a scathing critique of Dancer’s claims. Gonzalez and Lawrence assert that scruffy dress has no effect on the ‘intrinsic dignity’ of the medical… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
25
 

Botched execution sparks outcry in US

Another botched execution in the USA has reignited debate over the death penalty. Arizona man Joseph Rudolph Wood took almost two hours to die after being injected with the drugs midazolam and hydromorphone. The two drugs are a new barbiturate combination being trialled in a number of US states.

According to witnesses, Wood gasped for air hundreds of times before succumbed to the drugs. “It was very disturbing to watch…like a fish on shore gulping for air”, said reporter Troy Hayden. “I counted 660 times that he gasped,” said Arizona Republic journalist Michael Kiefer.

Just two months ago BioEdge reported on a similar botched execution in Oklahoma.

Shortly after the execution, Arizona governor Jan Brewer issued a statement in which she ordered a full review of the execution process.

She was nevertheless adamant that the execution had been lawful and did not involve undue pain: “One thing is certain, however, inmate Wood died… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
25
 

Nitschke suspended from medical register

Australian euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke has been suspended from the medical register as an investigation continues into his involvement in the death of a 45 year old Australian man.  

The Medical Board of Australia decided to suspend Nitschke after he admitted to supporting Nigel Brayley in his decision to commit suicide, despite not being terminally ill. The board said that Nitschke “presented a serious risk to the health and safety of the public”. 

The suspension, which came into effect at midnight on Thursday, prevents him from practicing anywhere in Australia and is an interim measure pending the outcome of the inquiry.

Nitschke called the decision “political“ and “a dirty little midnight assassination“ aimed at silencing him.  He has vowed to fight the suspension.

Beyond Blue spokesperson Jeff Kennett welcomed the decision, saying, "We cannot allow the debate to start that it's alright for a 16-year-old, or a 45-year-old, simply because they're having… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
19
 

Veterans Affairs scandal stems from a crisis of ethics: bioethicist

The crisis in the the US Veterans Affairs Department is fundamentally a crisis of ethics, according to the former hospital ethicist at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Evelyne Shuster.

The VA’s director, Eric Shinseki, was forced to resign after it was discovered that employees were generating fraudulent statistics to improve their performance reports. The problem was particularly acute in Phoenix.

The New York Times decried “poor management, a history of retaliation toward employees, cumbersome and outdated technology, and a shortage of doctors and nurses and physical space to treat patients.” The Wall Street Journal lamented a “corrosive culture” which had damaged patient care.

But not long ago, VA was at the forefront of quality care and patient safety. It had identified weaknesses in its ethical culture and had set up a multi-million dollar program to deal with it called Integrated Ethics. How did things… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
18
 

‘Informed consent has become a fetish’ – American bioethicist

In a recent Hastings Centre Report article, bioethicist Barbara A. Koenig argues stridently against traditional informed consent models for genetic testing:

"My view is that the focus on consent in contemporary biomedical research has become the modern equivalent of a fetish".

Koenig believes that the ‘full disclosure’ model of informed consent is impracticable. She recounts her experience developing genetic testing protocol after the mapping of the human genome in the 1990s:

“Even then, we recognized that the ideal of full disclosure of all risks and benefits of a particular genetic test, ideally by a trained genetic counselor,would collapse once the volume of genomic data increased. If it took an hour to counsel a patient about one condition, what would happen if panels of test could simultaneously offer multiple findings?”

Koenig proposes a model of consent whereby decision-making is outsourced to a ‘representative citizens group’ educated in basics of genetic testing. This group would… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
18
 

Nasal growth found on woman’s back after stem-cell treatment

An experimental Portuguese stem cell trial has resulted in a woman developing a nasal growth on her back.

In 2006 the anonymous woman attended a Portuguese hospital where tissue containing olfactory stem cells were taken from her nose and implanted in her spine. The hope was that these cells would develop into neural cells and help repair nerve damage in the woman's spine.

Eight years later she had a spinal growth removed in a US hospital. Doctors investigated the growth and discovered it to be composed of “mostly of cysts lined by respiratory epithelium, submucosal glands with goblet cells, and intervening nerve twigs”.

The cells had continued to grow as olfactory cells rather than morph into neural tissue. The growth was secreting a “thick, copious mucous-like material” which seems to have been pressing against the patient’s spine, causing considerable discomfort.

“It is sobering,” says George Daley, a stem cell researcher at Harvard Medical School… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
18
 

Top scientists call for restrictions on pathogen creation

Anthrax growing in a petri dish

A prestigious international group of scientists has called for a limit on the creation of potential pandemic pathogens (PPPs). The scientists, calling themselves the Cambridge Working Group (CWG), drafted a statement earlier this month warning of “fallibility” of even the safest virology laboratories:

“Recent incidents involving smallpox, anthrax and bird flu in some of the top US laboratories remind us of the fallibility of even the most secure laboratories, reinforcing the urgent need for a thorough reassessment of biosafety.”

In the past two months three separate incidents have occurred in the US alone, involving smallpox, anthrax and avian influenza.

The CWG suggested PPP researchers convene and establish stricter guidelines, just as in the Asilomar process:

“A modern version of the Asilomar process, which engaged scientists in proposing rules to manage research on recombinant DNA, could be a starting… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
18
 

Couples flock to Thailand for sex selective IVF

Thailand has become a top tourist destination for women seeking gender-selective IVF. The country is one of just three that permit gender selection – the other two are the US and South Africa – and it offers the most affordable procedures.

Hundreds of women from China and Hong Kong travel to Thailand each year, and that number is set to increase. Alfred Siu Wing-fung - just one of a number of Hong Kong health tourism agents - sells ‘gender selection IVF packages’ to about 200 Chinese couples a year.

Siu estimates about 10,000 gender selection cycles were carried out in Bangkok last year, at an average cost of $15,000 per treatment.

While medical equipment and drugs are imported, clinics are staffed mostly by Thai doctors and nurses trained overseas.

Around a dozen clinics in Bangkok offer the procedure.

The Medical Council of Thailand is campaigning to have the practice banned. However, in light of… click here to read whole article and make comments




 

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The IVF industry must go green
25 Jul 2014
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25 Jul 2014
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25 Jul 2014
Botched execution sparks outcry in US
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Nitschke suspended from medical register
25 Jul 2014