Posted: December 12th, 2022
How did the Lacks family, the media, and the general population view the medical community during the 1950s? What is the Nuremberg Code? How was it used, and was it easily enforced? Why or why not?
I think its amazing how much has changed in the healthcare field since the 1950’s. While reading this book, it’s a remembrance of how healthcare has developed, including our society and media. It is apparent in the book that the Lacks family did not have a positive view on the medical community, but who can blame them especially the way that they were treated because of their color. In the book it was questioned if the outcome would have been different if Henrietta went to doctor sooner? But the Lacks family did not view the medical community as an importance unless it was very serious. As for the media view, it was very apparent how the media would change the story or would be strategic in how to get the information. When the first new release went out two years after the death of Henrietta, they were not aware of the HIPAA regulations, but did they even care because there were not any consequences?
The Nuremberg code is a ten-point principal guideline for medical experimentation on human subjects. According to the guidelines, human experimentation is only justified if it results benefit society, and it is carried out with basic principles that “satisfy moral, ethical, and legal concepts” (THE UNIVERSITY of NORTH CAROLINA at CHAPEL HILL, 2022). I do not believe that it was easily enforced. The Nuremberg code was before the Lacks story began, but yet it is not enforced because several healthcare professionals were not following it.
How have ethics and laws around medical research with human subjects changed? How is the medical community viewed today, and what do you think would have happened in Henrietta Lacks’s case if she lived today? Support your response by citing 2 to 3 reputable sources.
Ethics and laws around medical research have improved with human subjects. Although I believe that more medical research is performed now, more than the future, but there are ethics and laws that are protecting those individuals, as well as it being a decision they made. In all reality, it’s more than researching human subjects, it also applies to using animals. In the world today, companies have to print on the label that no testing was performed on animals. Now “the ethical and legal issues relating to the conduct of clinical research involving human participants had raised the concerns of policy makers, lawyers, scientists and clinicians for many years. The Declaration of Helsinki established ethical principles applied to clinical research involving human participants. The purpose of a clinical research is to systematically collect and analyse data from which conclusions are drawn, that may be generalisable, so as to improve the clinical practice and benefit patients in future” (Yip, C., 2016).
Today the medical community is viewed more positively than the past. If Henrietta Lack’s was living today, the treatment would have been different. She would have been treated as an individual and not treated based on her color. Additionally, there are several different treatment options, nor would her treatment have been performed as they were in the 1950’s.
THE UNIVERSITY of NORTH CAROLINA at CHAPEL HILL. (2022). Nuremberg Code. https://research.unc.edu/human-research-ethics/resources/ccm3_019064/
Yip, C. (2016). Legal and ethical issues in research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5037952/
The Lack’s situation reminds me of the present situation we are in now concerning Roe vs Wade. Henrietta Lack after dying, without her husband permission, the doctors removed her cells from a tumor. Now, how unethical is this procedure. They did not ask for permission, nor did they have the right. These type of procedures happen here now. But like my first statement, this procedure they did on Mrs. Lack is something like how the government is banning abortion and making choice about a women body and how they reproduce. If anyone knows about the death of Kendrick Johnson, they removed all his organs and stuffed him with newspaper in order not to do a biopsy after his death. Its 2022 and no one can seem the tell what happen to his organs. The Nuremberg Code is a set of 10 ethical research principles for human experimentation. These rules were established by the U.S. v Brandt case at Nuremberg, where the first international war crimes tribunal in history was held after World War II. These principles are important also now in the present-tense due to all the medical human experiments that go on daily that we as human do not even know about. Today, experimenting includes cloning animals, using stem cell treatments for patients and so many other human experiments. We must learn to adjust to so many new medical changes in the world today. New develops of cancer treatment, new medications and new technology. If the Lack’s situation happened today, there would be a lawsuit waiting to happen. I do believe that’s one reason they have people participate in organ donor when applying for your driver license too. You must have permission to do anything these days especially taking someone’s cells from a tumor. That is criminal negligence in the medical world.
During the 1950’s, the media, the Lacks family, and the general population viewed the medical community with the utmost fear and never-ending embarrassment. It had become a habit to push things under the rug or keeping any type of issues as quiet as possible. It was apparent that the medical community had become a topic of discussion that no one wanted to participate in or had any answers to the questions being asked or should i say are too ashamed to respond to. Mrs. Henrietta checked herself and knew immediately that something was wrong. She found a foreign lump but was ashamed of the issue with syphilis which made her it a secret not only from her partner but from her family as well. Afterwards she did tell a friend and then proceeded to explain to her husband that the blood she was experiencing was not from her period and she should be checked out by a doctor but was more afraid of what the outcome would be with her womb. In those times many procedures were completed without written or verbal consent. Some procedures were also completed without the person being informed. There were many questions of the reason for the medical field because it was doing more of a disservice for the people and the community and more of a service for the organization on a whole. During that era, it was also really expensive for the population to afford the cost of healthcare, therefore leaving the population to choose between having some form of quality of life or spend their whole life wondering how to pay for the healthcare that was an embarrassment in the first place. It became apparent that the cost as well as, the financial burden stopped many from seeking the help and turned to self-diagnosis and self-treatment as an option. In those time the medical treatment only happened if there was a life-threatening emergency. It was not foreign to see that proper care was not given or even refused in those days.
The Nuremberg Code was specifically set up to protect the human subjects in which were being used for research. It is basically a set of 10 ethical guidelines for human experimentation. Human consent is needed and should be 100% voluntary. Currently this is the most impactful and influential aspect on the medical field, especially on the laws pertaining to medical research. Listed below are the ten ethical guidelines which should be met:
2.Must be for the greater good of the Society
3.Tested previously on animals (this I do not always agree with 100%)
4.Conducted without harm on mental, physical or injury
5.Refrain from research if believed to cause death or disability
6.The risks should never exceed the benefits
7.The facility being conducted in must protect the subjects
8.Conducted by qualified scientists
9.Subject should always be at liberty to stop and refuse
10.Scientist in charge must be prepared to stop and terminate the experiment if death, disability or injury is suspected.
In my opinion, I think this was a difficult thing to enforce due to many people not being in favor of it and failing to follow all of the rules. When one look at incidents happening today, one may find many who are not fully aware of all of the risks one could possibly incur. This apparently made away from the differentiation between the rights and benefits of Germans and Jews. It also opened scenes for one to notice the difference between a German and a Nazi. This law made others follow behind the ones who could give consent and ones who is not fully able to.
I n my opinion, i believe that the medical community is seen much differently than it was viewed in those days. I think there is much more trust due to code of ethics, professional standards and expectations put in place. Although it medical field is still a business, it is not solely focusing on monetary means but also focusing on treating the patient. If Henrietta was alive today, I believe that her case would be given a platform but also settled out of court with no one knowing the monetary outcome
Annas, G. J., & Grodin, M. A. (1995). The Nazi doctors and the Nuremberg code: Human rights in human experimentation. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.
Bosch, W. J., & Mazal Holocaust Collection. (1970). Judgment on Nuremberg: American attitudes toward the major German war-crime trials. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Rothman, D. J., & American Osler Society. (1996). Other people’s bodies: Human experimentation on the 50th anniversary of the Nuremberg Code. Place of publication not identified: American Osler Society.
R4: professor question. Answer with 50 words minimum.
One final question, with regard to the Nuremberg code, why do you think the code was never adopted by the U.S. and instituted as practice? Any thoughts?
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