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Ruth Macklin
Ruth Macklin, Ph.D., is professor of epidemiology & population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Entries by Ruth Macklin

Informed Consent in a Dangerous Medical Resident Hours Study

(1) Comments | Posted April 14, 2016 | 5:14 PM

In a recent post in this space, I wrote about the iCOMPARE research study that is comparing the effects of increasing medical residents' consecutive duty hours with observing the currently...

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A Dangerous Study of Medical Resident Hours

(2) Comments | Posted January 26, 2016 | 5:21 PM

Commercial airline pilots are subject to strict rules about the number of consecutive hours they may be on duty, as well as the number of hours that must elapse between their sessions actively piloting planes. The reason, obviously, is to ensure the safety of airline passengers, because the physiological and...

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Bioethics and New Developments in International Surrogacy

(0) Comments | Posted December 17, 2015 | 4:38 PM

Some people call it "reproductive tourism," while others prefer the more neutral "cross-border reproductive healthcare." Whatever it is called, surrogacy arrangements for infertile couples are now a big business in India and other countries in Asia--notably, Thailand.

For women who are unable to carry a pregnancy, commercial surrogacy is an...

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Does Bioethics Hinder Medical Progress?

(0) Comments | Posted September 18, 2015 | 5:05 PM

A recent opinion piece by Steven Pinker, a Harvard psychologist often referred to as a "public intellectual," called on bioethicists to "get out of the way" and allow biomedical research to proceed without the red tape and interference that allegedly slow the path to medical breakthroughs.

The trigger...

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Variations in Regulations on Assisted Reproductive Technologies

(0) Comments | Posted June 28, 2015 | 10:09 PM

Medically-assisted reproduction -- also known as Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) -- is practiced throughout the world. The Reproductive Bioethics Committee at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine has had an ethics advisory committee for ART since 1987 when it first introduced an egg donation program.

As a member...

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Altering Genetic Material: A Line That Must Not Be Crossed

(1) Comments | Posted May 1, 2015 | 2:30 PM

In my work as a bioethicist, I have very rarely taken an "absolutist" position regarding the use of a biomedical technology. But when I read an article titled "Chinese Scientists Edit Genes of Human Embryos, Raising Concerns," my reaction was that this should not be done. I am...

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The '3-Parent' Ruling: Debating the Ethics

(0) Comments | Posted February 17, 2015 | 10:58 AM

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), a governmental regulatory agency in the United Kingdom, has just approved a technique that prevents women with mitochondrial DNA disease from transmitting the faulty DNA to their children.

First, some background. Mitochondria are the cell's chief source of energy. Mitochondrial disease is a...

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The Ethical Dilemma of Forced Chemotherapy on a Teen

(3) Comments | Posted January 13, 2015 | 3:19 PM

The case of Cassandra C., a 17-year-old in Connecticut who refused to continue receiving chemotherapy to treat her Hodgkin's lymphoma, poses a genuine ethical dilemma. The dilemma stems from a conflict between two leading ethical principles. One principle, respect for autonomy, calls for respecting individuals' right to self-determination. In the...

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Seeking Swifter Action in E-Cigarette Regulation

(34) Comments | Posted January 2, 2015 | 6:26 PM

A new revelation has added to the ongoing controversy over the health risks of e-cigarettes. Some commentators have viewed the use of this electronic delivery system for nicotine as a way for smokers to cut down on tobacco cigarettes or quit the habit altogether. Others have contended that

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Informed Consent in Comparative Effectiveness Research

(0) Comments | Posted December 28, 2014 | 1:14 PM

"Standard of care" research (also known as "comparative effectiveness" research) is a design that compares two therapies in routine use to determine which has greater benefits or fewer risks.

All institutions that perform this research, including Albert Einstein College of Medicine and its University Hospital, Montefiore Medical Center,...

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Research Ethics and Ebola

(0) Comments | Posted October 23, 2014 | 10:14 PM

Every day we learn of new suspected cases of Ebola infection in the United States, causing worries among the population and renewed efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to contain the epidemic.

A student in the postgraduate course in research ethics that I teach at Einstein...

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The Ethics of the Ebola Outbreak: Who Should Receive Experimental Treatment?

(6) Comments | Posted August 21, 2014 | 7:51 PM

The current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, which has led to at least 1,200 deaths, poses a number of ethical questions that are both pressing and unfamiliar.

There are currently no approved drugs to treat Ebola. However, new, untested treatments have been given to a few people during this...

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Controlling Birth, Controlling Pregnant Women

(0) Comments | Posted August 1, 2014 | 2:18 PM

Doctors, hospitals and judges have over the years attempted to control the decisions of pregnant women. In a recent Florida case, it's not clear whether the controllers sought to protect the fetus, the woman or both. They may have wanted to protect the hospital from potential liability.

The case involved...

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The High Cost of Vaccines

(10) Comments | Posted July 16, 2014 | 3:12 PM

Few medical interventions have been as successful as vaccines in improving public health.

Whether they are childhood vaccinations, vaccines to prevent healthy adults from contracting influenza or the more recent HPV vaccine for adolescents, these preventive methods have resulted in dramatic benefits for individuals and the public. We have...

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Research Without Consent in the Emergency Room

(2) Comments | Posted June 20, 2014 | 12:26 PM

A new study poses one of the most vexing ethical questions concerning research with human beings: When is it acceptable to conduct research without the consent of the research subject?

In emergency situations, patients often arrive at the hospital unconscious or with severely impaired decision-making capacity. Progress in medical...

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Is Execution by Lethal Injection Medical Research?

(0) Comments | Posted May 7, 2014 | 10:50 AM

With new revelations emerging every day about the botched execution of a prisoner in Oklahoma, even those who favor the death penalty (I am a strong opponent) may have some reservations about the way it is carried out. Despite the uproar from both sides, I believe there are...

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Vegetative States and PET Scans: Is More Information Better?

(0) Comments | Posted April 18, 2014 | 12:45 PM

One typically thinks of advances in medical science and technology as having unalloyed benefits. The ability to cure illness, the mitigation of pain and the possibility of making diagnoses that are more accurate are some of the uncontroversial results of medical progress. Yet as a new study of vegetative states...

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Cigarros eletrônicos: a nicotina líquida é segura?

(0) Comments | Posted April 9, 2014 | 11:53 AM

O debate sobre os cigarros eletrônicos vem se aquecendo. Esses pequenos aparelhos que fornecem nicotina, movidos a bateria e sem fumaça, são uma porta para o hábito de fumar entre jovens, ou uma boa maneira de ajudar os fumantes a abandonarem o hábito? Especialistas em saúde pública são encontrados nos...

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E-cigarettes: Is Liquid Nicotine Safe?

(398) Comments | Posted April 4, 2014 | 9:53 PM

The debate over e-cigarettes has been heating up. Are the smokeless, battery-powered, nicotine-dispensing devices a gateway to smoking for young people or a helpful way for smokers to quit? Public health experts can be found on both sides of the debate.

An article in the New York Times...

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Is PGD (Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis) 'Playing God'?

(0) Comments | Posted February 28, 2014 | 2:42 PM

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal describes a couple's decision to use preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to see whether the woman's embryos had the BRCA gene, a mutation linked to breast cancer. PGD enables embryos created by in vitro fertilization (IVF) to be inspected...

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