Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Ethics

  • Errare humanum est

    Bob ScottScotland “Erring is human; not to, animal”– Robert Frost, The White-tailed Hornet Why is it so difficult to face up to our shortcomings? It is more than 300 years since Alexander Pope wrote1 that a defining characteristic of humankind was to err, while granting forgiveness was at the discretion of a god. Robert Frost’s…

  • Exploring capacity, consent, and confinement: A humanities-based approach

    Deema al YousufKathryn CobainShagun MisraDavid JeffreyWorcester, United Kingdom Background The UK’s Mental Capacity Act (2005) stresses the importance of patient involvement in the process of informed consent through shared decision-making.1 A workshop was held for forty-one first-year graduate medical students to raise their awareness of this Act. To stimulate their interest, an extract of Clive…

  • Ethical considerations in treating minors against the wishes of their parents

    Vidushi SharmaDelhi, India When parents and medical professionals disagree on the treatment of minors (especially on vaccination), moral dilemmas arise. Such complex issues require careful ethical consideration in order to achieve a delicate balance between respect for parental autonomy and the wellbeing of the minor. This scenario raises fundamental questions about beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and…

  • Self-regulation in peril

    Yasmina Rebani-LeeNew York, New York, United States One day on my walk home, I began to tally up the number of vapor shops, or vape shops, I came across. To my dismay, I found that four of these shops had sprouted within a five-block radius, practically the equivalent of one on each block. I began…

  • Blaming Tuskegee for present ills

    Adil MenonChicago, Illinois, United States The USPHS Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male is United States medical history’s most tragic example of the road to Hell being paved with good intentions. In the early 20th century, the Public Health Service and the Rosenwald Fund looked to Alabama’s Maycomb County and found a…

  • Eugenics in Chicago, 1915: Harry Haiselden, M.D., and The Black Stork

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden In the first decades of the twentieth century, the idea of eugenics took root in Northern Europe, Scandinavia, Great Britain, and the US. Anthropologists, geneticists, physicians, and politicians informed the public about eugenics and influenced policy and law. Eugenics, from the Greek eu-, good, and genos, birth, is an attempt to “improve”…

  • From Sophocles to the frontline

    Alexandra PliakopanouIoannina, Greece In the deserted misty land of Lemnos, a wailing voice echoes, emanating from a wounded warrior abandoned by his comrades nine years ago. Philoctetes, the titular character of Sophocles’ 409 BC play and once a great hero of the Greeks, now lies in misery with a festering wound that oozes pus and…

  • Preventing the next Mengele

    Matthew TurnerMcChord, Washington, United States The icy November wind cut like a knife through his dress uniform, down to his very bones, but the young doctor did not move a muscle. Like a statue, he stared ahead with the other men in the column at the podium before them. There was a speaker up there,…

  • I’m not a good man or a bad man, I just follow orders

    Luisa Alanís SáenzMexico City, Mexico “Shoot, they told me. I obeyed.I’ve always been obedient. By obedienceI conquered my high rank…I’m not a good man or a bad manI just follow orders”1– José Emilio Pacheco (my translation) In 1942, a man designed efficient plans to transport hundreds of thousands of people. Never meeting them, Adolf Eichmann…

  • Movie review: Miss Evers’ Boys

    P. Ravi ShankarKuala Lumpur, Malaysia The Tuskegee Syphilis study was a dark chapter in United States history. In 1932, the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) began to study the natural history of progression of syphilis. The study was originally called the “Tuskegee study of untreated syphilis in the negro male” and is now referred…