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Ethical Concerns in Scientific Research
Ethical Concerns in Scientific Research
Ethical concerns are a major concern in modern scientific research. Scientists need to ensure that their human subjects are protected at all times during the research and all actions taken during the research should safeguard the interests of the human subjects. The researcher is required to provide true information regarding the purpose of the study and the likely effects of the study. Additionally, the researcher needs to obtain consent from the human subjects after providing them with the information and ensuring that they have understood the purpose of the study and their required role in the research. However, these are the basic requirements, and the nursing association expects this of all nurses while receiving their education. The above conditions define the ideal situation. Unfortunately, history shows that scientific research is filled with accounts of human suffering and researches that have abused their human subjects. Central to this paper is the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, conducted over a span of four decades, from 1932 to 1972. In this study, the researchers aimed to identify the connection between the syphilis disease and the African American population. This paper will analyze the ethical concerns regarding this study and the rationale behind this study will also be discussed in detail.
The Tuskegee study is a primary type of study of clinical nature. The study is of primary nature because it involves clinical experiments of human beings, and the purpose of the study is to study the progression and the effects of the syphilis disease among the African American population. According to the article, the preliminary actions involved a group of doctors, who approached the head physician in Tuskegee at the time, about funding of a clinical study regarding the Syphilis disease. The doctor sought approval from the government and the government approved the study with promises of providing treatment for the patients. The promise of giving treatment to the patients under study motivated the team of doctors and Brodus to conduct the clinical experiments. It is clear that the study did not undergo any approval by the IRB (Institutional Review Board). In fact, the senate committee in 1978 that handled the case, after the scandal had leaked to the media and the general public, proposed more strict rules on the medical researches and the need to have the researches scrutinized by the IRB committees.
Informed consent in medical and scientific research is necessary to ensure that the human subjects give their consent after being properly informed of the purpose and the consequences of the proposed study. Informed consent is necessary to ensure that the human subjects are protected from harmful experiments and they understand the risks involved before they can choose to be involved with the study. In this study, it is obvious that the patients were never involved with informed consents. In fact, they were duped into the study, they were not aware of what they were suffering from and the nurses did not inform them of their disease. In the study, it is revealed that a particular nurse, portrayed in the movie by Ms. Evers, was aware of the injustices that the human subjects were being subjected to but she chose not to inform them. Instead, she encouraged them to continue with the program and to trust that the government would finally deliver their treatments.
Ethical principles are a set of rules that govern the morality and the code of conduct of burses within the nursing profession. The rules ensure that nurses have the responsibility of ensuring that their patients are okay, and they understand their circumstances. The study seems to violate most of the principles that have been set for the protection of their human subjects. The first principle, the principle of beneficence requires that nurses show compassion for their patients and exhibit the desire to always act a manner to do what is good for the patients. Ms. Evers clearly broke this ethical principle as she silently watched her patients’ conditions worsen when she was aware that the Penicillin drug had been released into the market. Non-maleficence, the second principle, requires nurses to avoid causing harm or hurting their patients. In this regard, it is clear that Ms. Evers and the other physicians took deliberate action that hurt the patients and that led to the death of some of their patients. Fidelity, the third principle requires that nurses always be truthful to their patients, show fairness and dedication while treating their patients. In the movie, it is evident that the nurse, Ms. Evers, and the other physicians did not show truthfulness to their patients regarding the experiment. The patients were injected with a disease they were not aware of. The physicians lied to the patients that they would receive treatment from the government. The physicians and the nurses also contributed to lies to the patients because they failed to inform the patients of the existence of Penicillin in the market.