Recent Medicine Commentaries

Featured image for “Is it ethical…? – Part II”
Is it ethical…? – Part II
On Wednesday I asked if it was ethical to force-feed prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, who, by their own volition, refused to take any nourishment. The question was featured in a Room for Debate forum on The New York Times website. I was looking for responses based solely on the ethics of such an action. I pointed out that both the American...
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November 1, 2013
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Is it ethical…?
At a White House news conference last month, President Obama said, “It’s not sustainable. The notion that we’re going to keep 100 individuals in no man’s land in perpetuity. All of us should reflect on why exactly are we doing this? Why are we doing this?” Obama was talking about the on-going imprisonment of, as of August, 164 individuals at...
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October 30, 2013
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A Nurse’s Story
Every couple of years, The Gallup organization takes a poll on the honesty and ethics of professions. It’s not surprising that nurses typically come out on top. In the latest poll, from 2012, nurses were given an 85 percent rating of high or very high. I met First Lieutenant (ret.) Jean Mitchell-Baldwin when she and her husband, John, paid a visit...
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October 18, 2013
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Racism in a Hospital Bed
You are an ER doctor at a hospital who has just admitted a motorcyclist in his thirties who has sustained serious, but not life threatening, injuries due to drinking. You are scheduled to attend the patient who’s described as a “mean drunk.” This is what Dr. Pauline Chen faced while treating a patient. “I’m sure it freaked him out to...
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July 31, 2013
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Moments of Principle
By now, most everyone has heard of the 11-hour filibuster waged on the floor of the Texas state senate in Austin by Senator Wendy Davis to prevent passage of a bill that would effectively close most of the medical facilities available for abortion in the state. What most may not know is that this wasn’t Davis’ first time at the rodeo. Anyone...
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July 1, 2013
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This One’s for Jeannie
Every year the Gallup organization asks a cross-section of Americans to rate “the perceived honesty and ethical standards” of various professions. As expected, nurses, pharmacists and medical doctors have topped the list at 85%, 75% and 70% respectively in 2012. “Six medical professional categories were included in this year’s update,” Gallup writes. “Nurses’ high rating this is not unexpected; they...
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December 5, 2012
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The Pill
“I was thinking faster, harder, there was no fog – and nothing could distract me. I felt like Sherlock Holmes.” That’s what an 18-year-old high school student reported after taking a 36mg. tablet of Concerta, a drug used to control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A few years ago I was returning home from the east coast by plane....
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June 13, 2012
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Bachmannian Ethics
While Aristotle is often referred to as the “philosopher of common sense” due to his works on logic, being, nature and ethics, Tea Party Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann eschews all of that in bringing forth all manner of false facts and flawed thinking. This is the same congresswoman who declared at a Florida rally, “I don’t know how much God...
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September 21, 2011
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Nurses Do it Again!
For nine straight years, nurses continue to rank the highest in the Gallup organization’s annual Honesty and Ethics survey. They would have scored first in the last eleven years if it wasn’t for firefighters snagging the top spot in 2001. The survey results were released on December 3 of this year by the Gallup organization that has been running the annual survey since 1976. “Eighty-one...
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December 10, 2010
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What Happened at Johnson & Johnson?
In the talks that I’ve given to corporations, associations and schools, one of the best examples of corporate responsibility I talk about comes from former Johnson & Johnson CEO James Burke. In the fall of 1982, seven people in the Chicago area had died after ingesting Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules that were laced with cyanide. Burke’s decision-making process, leading to the recall of all forms...
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June 16, 2010