Ethics: Today's Hot Topics


  • Should Clinicians With Conscientious Objections Be Protected?   HHS' Conscience and Religious Freedom Division is intended to protect healthcare professionals who want to opt out of performing certain procedures or providing certain medications. Is this necessary?
  • Should We Try to Predict Child Abuse--and Proactively Prevent It?   A New Zealand study forecast the chance that a child would suffer parental abuse. If the chance exists, should we intervene, even if an abuse event has not happened?
  • The Physician's Role in Reporting Sexual Abuse   The sexual abuse of members of the US gymnastics team underscores why such events should be reported. Here's why it's also important to tell patients what to expect during a physical examination.
  • Former Aetna Medical Director Didn't Look at Medical Records   A former Aetna CMO said in his deposition that he never looked at patients' medical records in reviewing appeals for coverage. Should there be more transparency when coverage decisions are made?
  • Are You Scared to Show Warmth to a Patient?   In light of the #MeToo movement, physicians may be wondering whether it is ever acceptable to hug a patient.
  • Should You Lose Your License if You're Not Computer Savvy?   The use of electronic medical records requires that a physician be computer savvy. Can you lose your medical license if you lack computer skills?
  • Should a Terminal Patient Receive Cataract Surgery?   Should a terminally ill cancer patient who asks for cataract surgery to improve his quality of life be granted his wish?
  • Was Matt Lauer Too Naive About Patient-Doctor Confidentiality?   When someone discusses sensitive matters, such as sex, with a physician or therapist outside of the office and asks for privacy, does patient confidentiality apply?
  • Should You Honor a DNR Tattoo?   If an incapacitated patient has a 'do not resuscitate' request tattooed on his or her body, should a physician comply with the request?
  • Should You Tell Elderly Patients to Stop Driving?   Should physicians be responsible for telling elderly drivers that they should no longer be driving? What alternatives are there for patients who still want to remain mobile?
  • Will Pig Organs Be Used for Transplants?   Immunosuppression and the fear of transmitting diseases that animals have to people have impeded pig organ transplants in humans. Will new scientific advances enable pig organ transplants?
  • Should Medical Schools Eliminate Lectures?   The University of Vermont Medical School has eliminated lectures in favor of active learning. Will other medical schools follow?
  • Parental Authority Should Be Overridden for a Sick Child   A baby with jaundice recently died as a result of the parents' religious beliefs. Should parental authority be overridden for a sick child?
  • Is It Time to Rethink Funding for Research on Gun Violence?   The recent spate of mass shootings, including the horrific one in Las Vegas, has prompted an outcry to address funding for research on gun violence.
  • Should You Recommend Coffee Drinking to Your Patients?   Recent studies suggest that coffee drinking may be good for you, but more data replicating these studies are needed. Should you recommend coffee consumption to patients?
  • Should Physicians Educate Patients via Social Media?   More patients are going online to get health information and some of the information on the Internet is not scientific. What can physicians do to educate patients via social media?
  • Is It Time to Modernize Medical Organizations?   Medical organizations have striven to serve physicians' needs for many decades. How can these organizations stay relevant?
  • Should We Pay Organ Donor Heroes?   Altruistic organ donors incur many legitimate costs, such as days lost from work and travel, hotel, and dining expenses, yet they aren't compensated. Should the government pay for their expenses?
  • Is Parental Smoking Child Abuse?   When a patient smokes, or takes medications, their children's health may be harmed. What can physicians do to change parents' behavior to eliminate these risks?
  • Are Doctors Ready to Counsel on DTC Genetic Testing?   At-home genetic tests are becoming more widely available. But interpreting the tests may be risky. Are doctors prepared to counsel patients on test results?
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