Reducing rule-breaking in clinical trials

The way that most scientific reports are presented seems to suggest that clinical trials have controlled for flaws or deviations, but some test subjects secretly break study rules that conflict with their own personal interests. These “subversive subjects” undermine the research endeavor.

Conscience legislation ignores medical providers committed to giving patients all necessary care

Advances in medicine allow doctors to keep patients alive longer, tackle fertility problems and extend the viability of premature babies. They also lead to a growing number of moral questions for both the medical provider and patient. “Across the country, so-called conscience legislation allows doctors and nurses to refuse to provide abortions, contraception, sterilizations, and end-of-life care,” says Elizabeth Sepper, JD, health law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “But legislators have totally overlooked the consciences of providers who have made the conscientious judgment to deliver care and of the patients who seek these treatments.” Sepper says that conscience in the medical setting needs to be protected more consistently. “The one-sided protection of refusal cannot stand,” she says. “Just as we wouldn’t say that giving students vouchers only for Christian schools furthers religious freedom, we can’t say that current conscience legislation successfully lives up to its goal of protecting conscience.

No consensus on when, how, by whom — even if — Alzheimer’s patients are told of their disease

Photo courtesy of Alzheimer’s Association, St. Louis ChapterA WUSTL psychologist says there is little consensus among doctors when it comes to disclosing a dementia diagnosis to patients and their caregivers.To tell or not to tell, that is the question. Should Alzheimer’s disease patients be told of the diagnosis? If so, when, how and by whom? Brian D. Carpenter, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, conducted a review of related study literature that shows there is little consensus among clinicians on the issue of disclosing a dementia diagnosis and great room for much more research. Carpenter’s review, done with research assistant Jennifer Dave, was published in the April 2004 issue of The Gerontologist. “If contemporary debate and practice are any indication, there is no consensus on these matters,” Carpenter says in the article “Disclosing a Dementia Diagnosis: A Review of Opinion and Practice, and a Proposed Research Agenda.”

Renowned historian of life and biomedical sciences to give Thomas Hall Lecture

Everett Mendelsohn, one of America’s foremost historians of science, will deliver the Thomas Hall Lecture titled “Dolly and the Historians: Science, Politics and Ethics of Cloning” as part of the Washington University Assembly Series at 4 p.m., Thursday, November 13. The lecture is free and open to the public and will be held in Rebstock Hall, Room 215, located just east of Mallinckrodt Center (6445 Forsyth Blvd) on the Washington University campus.