Sie sind auf Seite 1von 10

Rowley 1

Jacob Rowley
English 111
November 28th, 2014
Technology or Ethics: The Great Debate of Modern Time
Have you ever had to watch a loved one suffer through a disease without being able to
help them? Perhaps doctors had the technology to help your loved one, but they weren't allowed
to because the practice was considered unethical. This is the problem medical faculty encounter
every day in their working environments. According to Stephen Bolsin, "From the time of
Hippocrates the ethical culture of medicine has been assumed to be altruistic and benign" (500).
However, times are changing with the recent advancement of technology, and medical ethics are
sometimes considered on more of a lawful or political basis than a caring or moral basis
(Tupanceski and Kiprijanovski 47). For this reason, there has been frequent intense debate on the
topic of medical ethics and whether we should develop a system to consistently perform medical
procedures or just ignore the situation. In fact, there's even been controversy over whether the
new technology is good or bad because of the debate on ethics. Although medical technology has
experienced both positive and negative effects, medical ethics has failed to keep up with the
increased advancement, and we as a society are now faced with challenges to come up with a
guide for ethics in medicine.
Medical technology has had its accomplishments and downfalls, and one of the biggest
debates in this field is the use of embryonic stem cells because there is no strict policy on the
topic. Many people against collecting embryonic stem cells claim that stem cells from adults can
be used in just the same way, and scientists shouldn't tamper with embryos (Goldstein 205).

Rowley 2

While this may be true, some scientists will always use embryos until an ethical code of conduct
is written. In fact, Goldstein writes that since scientists are constantly trying to work on
problems, they "try to incorporate every new technological advance we can that will speed up
our ability to solve horrible health problems that afflict many people" (206). This is especially
concerning when this type of procedure performed outside of a research environment often
occurs haphazardly despite any benefits it may have (Eaton and Kennedy 94). Plus, there are
many unknowns when it comes to clinical research such as this. For example, there is a concept
in this area called equipoise, which is an initial state of genuine uncertainty; this term is used
because of the extreme uncertainty between medical professionals on the preferred methods of
treatments such as the use of embryos (Monsen 260). However, this type of research can also
have its benefits in saving people from deadly diseases, so if medical professionals were under a
stricter policy and maybe even under legal obligations, danger and the question of the unethical
nature of this kind of procedure would be minimized (Tupanceski and Kiprijanovski 47).
Creating a strict policy on the use of stem cells would provide a much clearer ethical basis for
medical professionals and the rest of society.
Another controversial debate that needs a policy created to regulate it is the use of
genetics in health care. Ethical concerns recognized as a potential impact on genetics studies
include confidentiality, genetic test accuracy, the burden of genetic knowledge for the
individual, and the misuse of genetic information leading to discrimination or stigmatization
(Monsen 30). All of these potential issues are very concerning since they could have a direct
impact on the patient. In addition, many medical professionals fear speaking up for the patient
because of past history of employers retaliating against those who do so (Mason et al 37). More
concerning, however, is the possibility of genetic enhancement to increase things such as

Rowley 3

intelligence, memory, endurance, and longevity, which would cause inequality on the
international level and create great issues in fairness across the globe (Monsen 62). This is not
only in ethical issues, but could result in extremes such as global wars and chaos if a policy is not
created on the subject of genetics in the medical field.
In addition to ethical problems in certain situations like stem cells and genetics, medical
ethics challenges also occur every day in the normal care setting. One particular study on this
topic was the example shown by Carrese et al. In their study, they directly observed faculty
preceptor-resident interactions in the resident clinic and conducted brief interviews with faculty
preceptors after the clinic sessions (Carrese et al 713). Their results showed that eighty-one
percent of cases involved everyday ethics, and residents were treated as learners in only about
half of them (Carrese 714, 717). These findings show exactly how much more emphasis needs to
be put on medical ethics in teaching situations if our society wants to continue valuing this aspect
of healthcare. Unfortunately, many researchers have discovered that the ethical development of
some medical students curriculums has lead to dishonesty and failure to report certain adverse
events and poor performances (Bolsin et al 500). This is a very worrying discovery, and as
Mason et al said, every nurse [and medical professional] should possess the mentality of being
both a mentor and a protg in the political process (21). Since these medical ethics situations
occur so often in everyday settings, something must be done to regulate and ensure competency
on these standards before medical technology advances too far for the ethics that should be with
In order to ensure medical technology doesnt advance too fast for medical ethics, we are
challenged with the duty to develop a guide or code so ethics comes first in all medical
situations. As Mason et al says, Whatever the source, public awareness and concern are often

Rowley 4

necessary for political action to get the policy process moving (49). This means that the first
step in improving the ethical guides for healthcare settings is to get the public involved and show
how enormous of an issue this is. Then, we may be able to develop and pass a law to regulate the
practice of medical ethics. Civil, criminal, and administrative law aspects would constitute the
basis for this medical law, and the medical legal norms would be focused on the relationship
between the patient and his basic rights in healthcare (Tupanceski and Kiprijanovski 48).
Additionally, lawmakers would have to study what is happening in out-patient care settings to
create a focus of ethics and develop a deeper awareness and appreciation of ethics-related issues
(Carrese et al 719). This would greatly solve the problems surrounding accurate communication
of details to potential patients and what that ultimately means for patient safety and the safety of
individuals (Goldstein 209). By creating this law based on the well-being of the patient in
medical ethics, we will be able to ensure medical technology doesnt advance faster than the
ethics that corresponds with it.
Even though this guide would be a great way to regulate ethics in the medical field, there
are still many critics that believe we dont need a guide for ethics because medical technology
can take care of itself. They believe that using technologies such as stem cells is helpful, and as
long as they result in some positive results, there doesnt need to be a code of ethics for the
negative effects (Goldstein 208). Critics also claim that what is considered as ethically
justifiable, and even necessary in certain situations, fails the test of law and directly contradicts
the established legal criteria (Tupanceski and Kiprijanovski 42). This would make the role of
law additionally problematic. However, if we clearly identify the problems, we can create
resolutions and alternative solutions for every scenario (Mason et al 54). In fact, Bolsin et al
says, The success of personal professional monitoring with immediate, progressive feedback of

Rowley 5

performance and critical incident review has already been proven in the clinical setting with
easy, rapid data collection and feedback (502). Since it is that easy and inexpensive to gather
information, the most logical choice would be to create a policy on medical ethics to ensure
medical technology doesnt advance faster than we can ourselves.
Although many negative consequences have occurred as a result of the lack of regulation
on medical ethics, many critics also claim there does not need to be regulation because of the
many positive effects of medical technology. One great technological advancement includes
surgical innovation such as ultrasound techniques, cameras, and arthroscopic tools (Eaton and
Kennedy 69). Another positive influence has been the many tools developed to help medical
faculty staff teach students and keep a log of everyday medical ethics cases (Carrese et al 720). A
third positive technological medical tool thats been created is the Functional Magnetic
Resonance Imagine, or fMRI. fMRI is a new medical tool that is being used to understand
diseases of the brain and nervous system and also the neural basis for human behavior (Eaton
and Kennedy 84). Clearly all of these advancements have helped people, but that doesnt mean
we should give up on a policy for medical ethics because of it, especially because even these
technologies have had their problems. For example, a big issue is the protection of and access to
fMRI data that may give people too much information on patients (Eaton and Kennedy 85). Plus,
according to Monsen, Current concerns around privacy and confidentiality, as well as, the
storage, retrieval, and use of patient information will likely yield to increasing pressures to find
new mechanisms to assure protection in this area (9). Obviously, there still needs to be a policy
on medical ethics to protect the patient in all situations involving medical technology.
Overall, a strict policy needs to be created for medical ethics because of the supreme
advancement of medical technology. One of the biggest debates over this topic has been stem

Rowley 6

cells and genetics, and this issue would be taken care of with a policy on the subjects.
Additionally, medical ethics has seen challenges in the everyday health care setting. A big part of
this is the under-teaching of ethics to medical students which may result in unwise ethical
decisions in the future. Also, critics think medical technology doesnt need a guide, but this is
clearly a false assumption considering the multiple problems experienced with modern
technology. Even though the technology does have its positive sides, a regulated policy on
medical ethics would ensure an overall more successful rate in situations involving medical

Rowley 7

Critical Preface
In recent years, the medical field has experienced a dramatic increase in technology for a
variety of purposes. These advancements range from electronic patient records to test-tube
babies. Because of the nature of some of these advancements and inexperience with them, there
have been many intense controversies. With this research project, I decided to explore a few
different questions: Is medical technology advancing too fast for medical ethics? What defines
medical ethics, and how could we as a society improve this area? These questions are especially
important during a time when technology is advancing faster than ever before and people's
differing views are coming into conflict over the matter. In fact, the medical field seems to be
searching for a guide on medical ethics in this time of rising technology.
I conducted this research over several days in late October and early November 2014. My
research included multiple resources: six scholarly journal articles using a variety of research
methods and four books written by experts in the field to display their differing viewpoints. This
research helped me to better understand the challenge of decision-making when it comes to
medical ethics and realize how difficult it is to have a set guide or list of rules for the subject.
The different researches completed by Bolsin et al, Goldstein, and Eaton have also helped me
realize the enormous variety of issues and benefits that medical technology contributes to.
Several of these sources, especially Mason et al and Tupanceski, highlighted the impact of using
laws and policies for medical ethics and the positives and negatives of doing so. Overall, these
sources convinced me that medical technology is advancing way too fast for medical ethics, and
we as a society have to find a way to ensure our ethics are put before anything else.

Rowley 8

Annotated Bibliography
Bolsin, S, et al. "New Technology To Enable Personal Monitoring And Incident Reporting Can
Transform Professional Culture: The Potential To Favorably Impact The Future Of
Health Care." Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 11.5 (2005): 499-506. CINAHL
Complete. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.
This scholarly journal article appeared in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
in order to illustrate how important of a role technology is playing in medical situations.
The authors argue that there are higher death rates when technology is not used, and
certain technologies greatly increase the standard of healthcare. This article is a great
source of information for anyone studying the positive influences of technology although
it is completely biased toward westernized medicine and practices.
Carrese, Joseph, A, et al. "Everyday Ethics in Internal Medicine Resident Clinic: An Opportunity
To Teach." Medical Education 45.7 (2011): 712-721. CINAHL Complete. Web. 30 Oct.
This scholarly journal article appeared in Medical Education in order to explain the
importance of doctors competency ability in medical ethics. According to the authors, a
very high and increasing number of patient cases involves an ethical situation to some
extent and must be handled with extreme acuity; however, medical teaching faculty
infrequently taught about ethics-related issues. Even though this source is biased from a
teaching perspective, it would be excellent for researchers seeking knowledge on ethics
in outpatient care settings and how education for this topic could be improved.
Eaton, Margaret L., and Donald Kennedy. Innovation in Medical Technology: Ethical Issues and
Challenges. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 2007. Print.

Rowley 9

The purpose of this book is to provide medical background information to allow a further
understanding of the consequences of choosing to innovate in medicine under a research
protocol or under a medical setting. The book supplies information on how certain
innovations take place and the effects they are having on medical ethics. This is a great
source of information on the ethical, legal, and social policies of different types of
medicine and would be useful to anyone doing research on these topics because it is
Goldstein, L. "Why Scientific Details Are Important When Novel Technologies Encounter Law,
Politics, And Ethics." Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 38.2 (2010): 204-211. CINAHL
Complete. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.
This scholarly journal article was published in the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics in
order to provide information on taking embryonic cells. Specifically, it focuses on the
issue of what to do if a couple that generates embryos chooses to lawfully and ethically
discard them. This unbiased article would be very useful for anyone interested in stem
cell research and how this process takes place to be acceptable politically and ethically.
Mason, Diana J. et al., eds. Policy & Politics in Nursing and Healthcare. St. Louis, Mo.:
Elsevier/Saunders, 2012. Print.
This book provides contributions from a variety of experts in policies and politics of
healthcare in order to give a complete background and insight in multiple medical ethics
situations. The editors claim that healthcare professionals should have knowledge of
these accounts so they can become better leaders and innovators in the workplace and
community. This book is a great source of information for anyone researching opinions

Rowley 10

from medical experts on changes to the healthcare community even though it is biased
from a healthcare professionals perspective.
Monsen, Rita Black, ed. Genetics and Ethics in Health Care: New Questions in the Age of
Genomic Health. Silver Spring, Md.: American Nurses Association, 2009. Print.
Monsen's book focuses on the accomplishments in understanding genetic causal factors
in health and illness and the resulting ethical challenges. Monsen discusses many
different situations in which medical ethics are called into question because of projects
involving a person's genome by using specific examples and case studies. This unbiased
source is full of valuable information for anyone researching ethical issues surrounding
genetics and healthcare.
Tupanceski, Nikola, and Dragana Kiprijanovska. "Medicine, Law and Human Rights - A
Symbiotic Relationship." Medicine & Law 33.1 (2014): 40-63. CINAHL Complete. Web.
29 Oct. 2014.
This scholarly journal article appeared in Medicine and Law in order to illustrate the
importance of the relationship between both medical and political professions. It clears
shows that these professions overlap because of areas of mutual concern involving human
rights, and it demonstrates that law and medicine must work together to maintain a
sustainable philosophy of human rights. This unbiased article contains valuable
information that would be very useful to anyone studying interaction between different
fields and modern philosophy on human rights.