News from Bioethics.com

In the Addiction Battle, Is Forced Rehab the Solution?

1 month 22 hours

(ABC News) – An Associated Press check of data in some key states has found that the use of involuntary commitment for drug addiction is rising. And in many places, lawmakers are trying to create or strengthen laws allowing authorities to force people into treatment. But critics, including many doctors, law enforcement officials and civil rights advocates, caution that success stories like Loud’s are an exception. Research suggests involuntary commitment largely doesn’t work and could raise the danger of overdose for those who relapse after treatment.

Researchers Tally the Physical and Financial Costs of Opioid Painkillers’ Side Effects

1 month 22 hours

(Los Angeles Times) – The opioid crisis has shown us that prescription painkillers and their illicit counterparts can wreak havoc in American communities. Now researchers have quantified the damage they can do inside hospitals when administered to patients following surgeries and other invasive medical procedures. More than 10% of hospitalized patients who took one or more opioid painkillers experienced a side effect tied to the drug, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Surgery. Fully 93% of these patients suffered at least one episode that was deemed moderate or severe.

More Kids Overdosing on ADHD Drugs

1 month 22 hours

(Reuters) – The surge in U.S. kids taking medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is having an unintended side effect, a new study suggests: more children and teens are overdosing on these drugs. Nationwide, U.S. Poison Control Centers received more than 156,000 calls about exposures to ADHD drugs among youth 19 years old and younger between 2000 and 2014, averaging 200 calls a week and 29 calls a day, researchers report in Pediatrics.

Murder or Suicide? The Legal Complexities of the ‘Cause’ of Death in Euthanasia

1 month 22 hours

(The Wire) – As a result of van Dongen’s death, Wallace was charged with murder and grievous bodily harm by using a corrosive acid with intent to cause harm. The jury found her unanimously guilty of using the corrosive acid with intent, but not of murder. Perhaps the most significant obstacle to securing the murder conviction was van Dongen’s decision to have euthanasia. In the UK euthanasia, or assisted suicide, can still result in a manslaughter or murder charge against the doctors who administer the life-ending treatment.

Congress Passes Right-to-Try Bill

1 month 23 hours

(Medscape) – The bill is intended to make it easier for people with life-threatening conditions to access experimental treatments outside of clinical trials. Many advocacy groups argue the measure will erode needed protections and put patients at risk for harm from unproven and potentially unsafe therapies. The House voted 250-169 on a version of the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2017, which the Senate approved last year by unanimous consent.

Battle to Treat Madagascar Women for Debilitating Fistula

1 month 23 hours

(Medical Xpress) – Obstetric fistula refers to the rupturing of tissue between the vagina and the bladder or rectum after prolonged, obstructed labour or, less commonly, violent rape. The condition typically results in urinary or faecal incontinence. Madagascar is one of the worst-hit countries, with 4,000 women affected every year. An estimated two million female patients have the condition worldwide—most of them in developing countries. It has been nearly eliminated in Western countries due to improved obstetric care and the use of caesarean delivery.

Experimental Drugs Poised for Use in Ebola Outbreak

1 month 1 day

(Nature) – Aid workers responding to the Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are seeking approval to treat patients with experimental drugs. These include three potential treatments — ZMapp, favipiravir and GS-5734 — that were given to patients during the 2014–16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The three drugs are being considered in addition to an existing plan to deploy an experimental vaccine; none of the treatments has been definitively proved to lower the risk of death from Ebola.

Nurse Dies After Contracting Rare Nipah Virus While Treating Outbreak in India

1 month 1 day

(TIME) – At least 10 people have died of Nipah since an outbreak began earlier this month in Kerala, health officials say, and two more people are in critical condition. There is no vaccine for the virus, which can cause raging fevers, convulsions and vomiting, and kills up to 75 percent of people who come down with it. The only treatment is supportive care to keep patients comfortable.

Can Genetic Counselors Keep Up with 23andMe?

1 month 1 day

(The Atlantic) – Now genetic counselors are figuring out how to help the growing [direct-to-consumer] set, while their field is in transition. As demand for their services grows, the field is facing a national shortage in which there are an estimated two to three jobs available for every graduate of genetic-counselor training programs. To address it, in addition to recruiting future students and expanding training programs, professional societies are at work trying to change the way genetic counselors are viewed in the health-care system. Currently, only eight states allow genetic counselors to directly order tests for patients.

The Suicide Rate for Black American Children Is Twice That of White Children

1 month 1 day

(Quartz) – White Americans are more likely to commit suicide than black Americans. But a new study finds that the opposite is true for children. Black children between the ages of 5 to 12 years old are roughly twice as likely to take their own life than their white counterparts, according to the paper, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. It adds to a 2016 study that found an increase in suicide rates in recent years among black children of elementary-school age.

Automated Health Care Offers Freedom From Shame, But Is It What Patients Need?

1 month 1 day

(The New Yorker) – Most contemporary writing about A.I. fixates on the vital concerns of job disruption, privacy, and algorithmic bias. But there is an equally important conversation to be had about shame and vulnerability. We often respond more frankly to computers and robots than we do to our fellow-humans. In online surveys, for example, people admit to financial stress and illegal or unethical acts more readily than they do over the phone, and potential blood donors report riskier behaviors. When a virtual interviewer is asking the questions, children are more candid about bullying and adults show sadness more intensely. Part of this openness stems from the presumed anonymity of telling something to a machine: computers seem private because of their very facelessness.

Is Salt Bad? A Prison Study May Hold the Answer

1 month 2 days

(The Atlantic) – The groups ran through their research options. The best evidence linking salt intake and high-blood pressure comes from short-term feeding studies, where researchers prepare the meals for participants over several weeks. But it is far too expensive to feed participants for the years it takes for heart disease to show up. And frankly, how many volunteers would follow a bland diet for years? So they considered people already on controlled diets. Nursing homes, they ruled out because many of the elderly have medical conditions that already require eating a certain amount of salt. The military they ruled out because the population is so young and fit that it would take too long for heart disease to show up. That left prisons.

Founder of Swiss Assisted Suicide Organization on Trial for Profiteering from His Clients

1 month 2 days

(The Telegraph) – The founder of one of Switzerland’s best known assisted suicide organisations went on trial on Friday on charges of profiteering from patients and exploiting their suffering for his own benefit. Ludwig Minelli, the founder of Dignitas, is accused of arranging the assisted suicide of one German woman because she left the organisation 100,000 Swiss francs (£74,000) in her will. He is also accused of overcharging a mother and daughter by around 11,000 Swiss francs (£8,000) to arrange their suicide.

Finding the Lost Generation of Sperm Donors

1 month 6 days

(The Atlantic) – For people like McKinney and Sanchez who were conceived through sperm donation, it’s an unusual time to come of age. Born nearly three decades ago, they are members of something of an in-between generation: Donor-conceived children born well before them tended not to know their parents or any existing “donor siblings.” And while donors in the ’80s and ’90s most often planned on staying anonymous, in the time since McKinney and Sanchez were born, the rise of consumer DNA testing has made this much less certain. Meanwhile, industry practice and consensus among psychologists are moving away from anonymous donations, such that the era when anonymity is the expectation appears to be over.

More Patients Are Taking Home Recordings of Their Doctor Visits. But Who Else Could Listen?

1 month 6 days

(STAT News) – Doctors across the U.S. have begun doing what once seemed unthinkable in a litigious health care environment: recording their medical conversations with patients and encouraging them to review the audio at home. The rationale for the practice is as simple as the smartphone technology that enables it: having a recording improves patients’ understanding and recall of their doctor visits and helps them adhere to treatment regimens. Now the increasing power of artificial intelligence is promising to bring this technical capability to a new level — potentially offering big rewards, and risks, for patients and caregivers.

Creepy ‘Brain in a Bucket’ Study Spurs Medical, Ethical Debate

1 month 6 days

(NBC News) – First, a reality check: Sestan’s research used pig brains, not human ones, and nothing was reanimated. Bringing a dead brain back to life remains squarely in the realm of science fiction. But what Sestan and his team accomplished does take science into uncharted waters. Brain research is advancing so quickly that ethicists are scrambling to keep up.

WHO: Ebola in Congo Not Global Health Emergency

1 month 6 days

(ABC News) – The World Health Organization says the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo does not yet warrant being declared a global health emergency. For a health crisis to constitute a global health emergency it must meet three criteria stipulated by WHO: It must threaten other countries via the international spread of disease, it must be a “serious, unusual or unexpected” situation and it may require immediate international action for containment.

Opioid Crisis Makes More Organs Available

1 month 6 days

(NBC) – America’s opioid epidemic has one sad upside: more organs available for lifesaving transplants, researchers reported Wednesday. Close to 14 percent of people who donated an organ in 2016 had died of a drug overdose, the team of experts reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. That compares to just 1 percent in 2000. The numbers still are not large. In 2000, 59 organ donors had died of drug overdoses, compared to 1,029 in 2016.

Stem Cells: the Basics

1 month 6 days

(U.S. News & World Report) – Stem cells are packed with possibility. Embryonic or “pluripotent” stem cells have superpowers: They can give rise to various organs or tissue cells, or instead divide and renew themselves. Meanwhile, adult stem cells await throughout your body to replenish worn-out or damaged cells.  Researchers are finding ways to guide embryonic stem cells to generate new cells for potential treatments. Stem cells likely have a role to play in personalized or precision medicine.

After Nerve-Wracking Eye Surgery, the World Comes into Focus for Early Gene Therapy Recipient

1 month 6 days

(STAT News) – About eight weeks earlier, in March, his eyes had been just as hollow. He’d been the first person to get an $850,000 therapy called Luxturna since it had hit the market. It was intended to replace a mutant gene in Jack’s retinal cells that impaired his vision. After the surgery, with his eyes temporarily drained of liquid and pumped full of air, he’d had to lie back for six hours, staring at the ceiling, so that the medication would pool in the right part of his retina. His mother had held an iPad above him, streaming basketball games and music until her arms got tired. Sometimes, she fed him crackers. She could only hope that the drug had worked.

NSW Takes Crucial Step in Fight Against Human Organ Trafficking, Targets Crimes Overseas

1 month 6 days

(The Epoch Times) – Organ trafficking is a serious criminal offence in Australia but currently, state and commonwealth laws only prevent a person who is in Australia from engaging in an illegal trade of human organs. Loopholes in the legislation mean that if an Australia receives an organ in an illegal or unethical manner while overseas, they face no penalty when they return home. The passing of the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 in the state’s upper house could be the first step towards criminalising organ transplant tourism — an act where a person advertises for or seeks to purchase organs from overseas.

Is This Stem Cell Clinic Really Making a Cancer Vaccine?

1 month 6 days

(Wired) – Knoepfler writes a blog about stem cells, and that’s where he surfaced the video on May 9, after an acquaintance tipped him off. He’s sort of a watchdog for the industry. Since 2011, he’s tracked the proliferation of unregulated stem cell clinics and followed US Stem Cell’s cavalier approach to experimenting on its patients, sometimes to disastrous effect. In 2015, one of its clinics injected liposuction-derived stem cells directly into the eyeballs of three elderly women suffering from age-related macular degeneration. All three went blind, two sued, and US Stem Cell settled out of court. But this, he says, might be the most dangerous thing he’s seen yet.

Surrogate Mothers Ask Supreme Court to Stop ‘Exploitation’ of Women and Babies

1 month 6 days

(The Washington Post) – Cook and two other surrogate mothers — Gail Robinson and Toni Bare — are in Washington this week to call on the Supreme Court to provide more clarity on the rights of women and children in the controversial industry. The women, who have separately filed lawsuits in different states, say surrogacy contracts are exploitative to the birth mothers, create a class of women as breeders and commodify children.

California Judge Overturns End of Life Option Act

1 month 6 days

(CNN) – A California superior court judge on Tuesday overturned a 2016 state law that allows doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill adult patients. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia said The End of Life Option Act, which took effect June 9, 2016, was unconstitutional because the Legislature passed it during a special session convened by Gov. Jerry Brown to address health care-related issues.

Judge Tosses California Law Allowing Life-Ending Drugs

1 month 1 week

(Medical Xpress) – Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia ruled lawmakers illegally passed the law during a special session devoted to other topics, but he gave the state attorney general five days to appeal. The law allows adults to obtain a prescription for life-ending drugs if a doctor has determined they have six months or less to live, but plaintiffs say it lacks safeguards to protect against abuse.

Pages

Creative Commons License