WHO issues ethics guidance to protect rights of TB patients

WHO, 22 March 2017
“New tuberculosis (TB) ethics guidance, launched today by the World Health Organization (WHO), aims to help ensure that countries implementing the End TB Strategy adhere to sound ethical standards to protect the rights of all those affected.”
Find news release here.

Aid-in-Dying Laws and the Physician’s Duty to Inform

JME Blog, 22 March 2017
Author: Mara Buchbinder
“Why do so many people assume that any clinical communication about aid-in-dying (AID, also known as assisted suicide), where it is legal, ought to be patient-initiated? Physician participants in my ongoing study tend to assume that physicians should wait for patients to initiate discussions of AID. The clinical ethics literature on communication about AID has reinforced this expectation by focusing on how to respond to patient requests. Consequently, bioethics has largely remained silent on whether there is a professional duty to inform terminally ill patients about AID laws and their clinical and legal requirements.”
Find article here.

In Pausing Human Research On Zika, Medical Ethicists Acknowledge A Dark Past

Wbur, 21 March 2017
Author: Paul C. McLean
“This was the proposal: Deliberately infect a small group of consenting adults with the Zika virus to learn about the disease and speed up the search for a vaccine. The need is clear. Zika is an emerging global threat to public health. The NIH called for an ethics consultation and asked two essential questions: Can a Zika “human challenge” study be ethically justified? If so, under what conditions? The panel’s answer, in short, was this: The research could be justified, but conditions must be met. Their assessment epitomizes both the grand purpose of bioethics and the broad frustration with it.”
Find article here.”

NSW hospital patients not told their medical records were found in public areas

ABC, 20 March 2017
Author: Nick Dole
“NSW hospital patients have had their confidential details compromised on multiple occasions, including medical records being found in a public carpark. In many cases, patients were never informed because the Health District said there was not a “serious risk of harm”. The Central Coast Local Health District recorded more than 30 privacy breaches in 2014/15, and in 2015/16 there were 16.”
Find article here.

‘Do no harm’ vs. ‘legitimate use of force’

EurekAlert, 16 March 2017
Source: University of Montreal
“Should a military doctor obey an order to not treat an enemy combatant? Or certify a sick soldier as fit to fight? Should a nurse take part in interrogations? Ride along on medical caravans to build trust with locals? Violate patient privacy for military ends? These and other questions are being studied by Canadian researchers with the Ethics in Military Medicine Research Group. Their latest paper, published in December in the winter issue of the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, compares the ethics codes of the Canadian Medical Association and the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. ”
Find article here.

Doctors Consider Ethics Of Costly Heart Surgery For People Addicted To Opioids

NPR, 21 March 2017
Author: Jack Rodolico
“Milford is part of a group of opioid addicts whom doctors describe as the sickest of the sick: intravenous drug users, mostly people who use heroin, who get endocarditis. Some aspects of their treatment present an ethical dilemma for doctors. Cardiologists, surgeons and infectious disease doctors can fix the infection, but not the underlying problem of addiction.”
Find article here.

Ethical Implications of the Electronic Health Record: In the Service of the Patient

J Gen Int Med (2017). doi:10.1007/s11606-017-4030-1
Authors: Sulmasy, L.S., López, A.M., Horwitch, C.A. et al.
“Electronic health records (EHRs) provide benefits for patients, physicians, and clinical teams, but also raise ethical questions. Navigating how to provide care in the digital age requires an assessment of the impact of the EHR on patient care and the patient–physician relationship.”
Find article here.

Diabetologist and former journal editor faces charges of data fabrication

BMJ 2017; 356: j1348
Author: Clare Dyer
“At a four week hearing of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service that opened on 13 March, the GMC accuses Grant of a catalogue of research misconduct, including forging the signatures of coauthors, listing doctors who had not significantly contributed to papers as coauthors, and fabricating data.”
Find article here.

Jung v R [2017] NSWCCA 24

Decision date: 6 March 2017
“CRIMINAL LAW – sentence appeal – 10 indecent assault offences under s.61L Crimes Act 1900 – two further offences taken into account on a Form 1 – offences committed by physiotherapist against six female patients during treatment – aggregate sentence of imprisonment for five years with non-parole period of three years and six months – claim of error in sentencing Judge’s approach to evidence of offender’s mental condition at time of offences – error not demonstrated – claim that aggregate sentence manifestly excessive – repeated offences committed against patients during treatment – abuse of trust – good character a precondition to registration as a health practitioner – offences involved gross breaches of offender’s ethical obligations – need for appropriate punishment – role of general deterrence – aggregate sentence not manifestly excessive – appeal dismissed.”
Find decision here.