Ethics of Healthcare - Book Review Example

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Sewanee University of the South
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Book review
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Ethical questions in research have been a constant subject of discussion in academia and the media, be part of the daily practice of any researcher. Rebecca Skloot researched for 10 years the story of Henrietta Lacks, a 31-year-old girl who died in 1951, a victim of cervical cancer. (Skloot, 2013). This may not have been as relevant were it not for two important facts: the first is that Henrietta cells generated Henrietta's family members in Baltimore. The author did not anticipate that a telephone call would be the starting point of a trajectory of a decade by scientific laboratories, hospitals, psychiatric institutions, with a large cast of characters. Because of the eagerness to seek answers about the origin of the cell culture and ethical conflict, Rebecca noticed that it slowly and eventually became part of that story.

The book draws parallels between the story of Henrietta, mainly her last days of life, and that of the scientists who hungered to find a way to cultivate cells, the evolution of biomedicine and the writer's own saga in collection of data for the research. Dr. George Gey developed the culture methodology, proper type of sterilization and personally built all the laboratory at hand. He was the one who received the cells of Henrietta, collected during a procedure for the removal of a uterus, and managed, with HeLa cells, the first cells maintained in culture until today hence a revolution in medicine and a multibillion-dollar industry. The second is the fact that Henrietta is black and humble and that the cancerous cells were extracted without her consent or knowledge, or her familys. At the time, it was common to use patients in public wards without their knowledge to when a number of researchers believed that, for these reasons, patients have access to exams, it would be fair to use them as guinea pigs for experiments (Truog et al., 2012). The work begins with the author, a journalist and their motivations for the development of research. The author took note of the HeLa cells and high impact that caused in medicine still in the adolescence, but little was known about their origins only that they were of a black woman collected in the 1950s.

After the discovery of cell culture and his incredible multiplication, Dr. Gey began to share these cells with any scientist who interests. One of the first applications of HeLa cells was polio vaccine trials. Therefore, in that same year, the world lived the greatest epidemic in history, and she craved a vaccine. The vaccine was recently discovered by Jo- in Salk, and its application in children could only be offered after of tested in large scale, therefore, if it worked, the serum would block the virus and protect the cells. Otherwise, the virus would infect and the child would be contaminated. Tests on HeLa cells were a success and, in a short time, the vaccine was distributed to the population. Researchers began so to use them in the most varied types of experiments: exposing them virus, contributing to an advance immeasurable value in the field of logia; subsequently, - freezing processes, in which the most diverse stages could be mapped during the cell multiplication process, for example, the exact identification the number of chromosomes, to detect disturbances such as Down syndrome (Javitt, 2010). Beyond, In addition, the cells were high radiation levels, to analyze the impacts of nuclear bombs, and pressure, to understand the impact of extreme conditions underwater diving or flights space.

They tested roides, chemotherapeutic remedies, hormones, vitamins, am- and did the first of cell cloning. The book presents interesting details of the evolution of medicine, stressing some bizarre acts of scientists of the time. In fact, in the years 1950, little had been defined in ethical issues of science. At that, there were no regulations or formal supervision of research in the United States (Pozgar, 2011). Attempts to regulation were followed by protests from doctors and research- that they would interfere with the "Development of science." In 1947, seven Nazi doctors were convicted in a court of War for conducting unscrupulous research with Jews without their consent. From that came the Code of Nuremberg, which, although not have the force of law, would direct all the experiments on human beings in the world, bringing the idea that the consent of the of human beings in participating in the experiment was essential and that the patient should have access to the facts necessary for the decision. The Lacks family, however, only became aware of the collection of Henrietta 20 years after her on the basis of an article published in tribute to the scientist George Gey. For the family, it was a possible immortality of Henrietta, and this idea terrified them (Greely & Cho, 2013). By account lack of clarification, the family ended up building their own theories as to the immortality of HeLa cells, a mixture of moral and religious leaders. Currently, there is, to some extent, control of patents on biological materials (owned by scientists, pharmaceutical dams, universities) which govern its applicability, but there is still controversy regarding the donor remuneration.

The work of Rebecca Skloot is exciting and engaging; she captures and maintains the language of interviewees, all wealth and sub- in the documents, photos, letters, journals, medical records doctors and articles. The work brings forth not only a discussion about the controversy of scientific experiments in human resources and the marketing of biological material, but also on issues of gender, race, values, faith, so present during the research process, including organizational studies. Social hierarchies can to manifest itself in the practice of scientific research in organizations, re- having the difficulty of articulating the subject-object dichotomy. Indeed, although codes of conduct new forms of re-bending on scientific research in administration, emphasizes the impossibility of codification of ethical and morals in full, soon it is expected that the researcher will be capable of balancing obligations with the profession, with society, with the development of know- cement and, above all, with people studied. In short, the work of Skloot reflection on some fundamental principles that involve the integrity of scientific research, as an alert for observation of the researcher's role and the protection of scientific research, from any undue damage and, consequently, maintaining the responsibility and autonomy of the researcher in development of studies.



Greely, H. T., & Cho, M. K. (2013). The Henrietta Lacks legacy grows. EMBO reports 14(10), 849-849.

Javitt, G. (2010). Why Not Take All of Me: Reflections on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and the Status of Participants in Research Using Human Specimens. Minn. JL Sci. & Tech., 11, 713.

Pozgar, G. D. (2011). Legal aspects of healthcare administration. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.Skloot, R. (2013). The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks, the sequel. New York Times, 23.

Truog, R. D., Kesselheim, A. S., & Joffe, S. (2012). Paying patients for their tissue: The legacy of Henrietta Lacks. Science, 337(6090), 37-38.


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