Beneficence is considered a core principle of medical ethics. Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) is used almost synonymously with beneficence and has become the gold standard of efficiency of conventional medicine. Conventional modern medicine and EBM in particular are based on what Heidegger called calculative thinking, whereas complementary medicine (CM) is often based on contemplative thinking according to Heidegger's distinction of different thinking processes. A central issue of beneficence is the striving for health and wellbeing.
The debate around the ethics of homeopathy in recent issues of the journal has been approached as a binary question; is homeopathy ethical or not? This paper suggests that this is an unhelpful question and instead discusses a framework to establish the extent to which the dominant (medical) culture should tolerate non-dominant health practices such as homeopathy.
In a recent paper, Levy, Gadd, Kerridge, and Komesaroff attempt to defend the ethicality of homeopathy by attacking the utilitarian ethical framework as a basis for medical ethics and by introducing a distinction between evidence-based medicine and modern science. This paper demonstrates that their argumentation is not only insufficient to achieve that goal but also incorrect.
Physicians commonly recommend 'placebo treatments', which are not believed to have specific efficacy for the patient's condition. Motivations for placebo treatments include complying with patient expectations and promoting a placebo effect. In this article, we focus on two key empirical questions that must be addressed in order to assess the ethical legitimacy of placebo treatments in clinical practice: 1) do placebo treatments have the potential to produce clinically significant benefit?
Although research on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies is still limited, systematic reviews have revealed sufficient evidence to conclude that CAM can be effective for certain conditions. In this article we discuss clinicians' responsibilities to inform parents/patients about CAM alternatives and use the example of acupuncture for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting remain significant adverse effects of cancer therapy, and some patients cannot find relief with standard therapies.
Attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is familial and highly heritable. Several candidate genes involved in neurotransmission have been identified, however these confer minimal risk, suggesting that for the most part, ADHD is not caused by single common genetic variants. Advances in genotyping enabling investigation at the level of the genome have led to the discovery of rare structural variants suggesting that ADHD is a genomic disorder, with potentially thousands of variants, and common neuronal pathways disrupted by numerous rare variants resulting in similar ADHD phenotypes.
In November 1998 biologists announced that they had discovered a way to isolate and preserve human stem cells. Since stem cells are capable of developing into any kind of human tissue or organ, this was a great scientific coup. Researchers envision using the cells to replace damaged organs and to restore tissue destroyed by, for example, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, or even Alzheimer's. But, since stem cells are taken from aborted embryonic and fetal tissue or "leftover" in vitro embryos, their use raises large ethical issues.
The principle of double effect is widely used to permit the administration of narcotics and sedatives with the intent to palliate dying patients, even though the administration of these drugs may cause hastening of death. In recent medical literature, this principle's validity has been severely criticized, causing health care providers to fear providing good palliative care. Most of the criticisms levelled at the principle of double effect arise from misconceptions about its purpose and origins.
The Roman Catholic Church is the single largest denomination in the United States and the one with the most extensive provider stake in health (and related social service) care. As a follow-up to an earlier analysis of the Catholic role in the thwarted health care reform effort of 1993-94, this article looks at the revival of interest in reform and at the rationale behind and strategy of the Catholic Church's current agenda-setting initiative.