The importance of medicine for the humanity is impossible to overestimate. We as human beings are vulnerable creatures and thanks to medicine, we have an opportunity to live longer, happier and less painful life. The world is rapidly changing and medicine needs to develop as well. What keeps this field being up-to-date is a medical research. It is necessary in order to produce innovative drugs and treatments which can make a life of humanity better. However, sometimes the price of scientific break-through is too high, as medical research is being conducted not only on animals but on human beings as well.
Here the issue of ethics comes on stage. Researching process means that people need to go through multiple experiments which potentially can damage their health. If a doctor displays an ethical behavior, the end results of the experiment will not be harmful to the participant; however, if the physician does not respect ethics of the clinical research, the results might be deplorable.
Due to the hectic way of modern life and a current state of ecology, we constantly require innovations in the medical sphere. The demand for new treatments and medicines is constantly rising. In order to produce safe and effective medical supplies, testing must be conducted prior to selling a new product.
As we just mentioned, there is a high demand for innovative drugs and treatments. Subsequently, request for new medical experiments is also high. Unfortunately, some researchers take advantage of the current situation and display unethical behavior. They start risky medical projects, misinform and mislead their patients, which results in health damage. Or sometimes doctors are simply not qualified enough to be able to evaluate the benefit of the result of the research for the humanity and potential level of harm to a research participant.
Let’s check three basic ethical guidelines for individuals who would like to be a part of a medical research.
- They have a right to demand privacy and confidentiality
- They are entitled to be informed about any unplanned changes in the course of the research
- They should be granted the right to change their mind if at some point they realize that the effect of experiments is not suitable for them
Let’s also check four main principles of ethics in a medical research -- so called “Four Principles of Beauchamp and Childress”.
- Autonomy - A person makes his own decision whether to take a risk and enroll in a study or not, but only on condition that all sufficient information was provided to him
- Beneficence - Those who conduct the research should aim not only for the wellness of the society as an end result but for the well-being of the patient as well
- Non-maleficence - Researchers are responsible for the fact that the welfare of the individual during the study is not jeopardized in any way.
- Justice – Patients in a similar position should be treated in a similar way, i.e. fairly.
Medical research and ethics is quite a controversial subject. There are no absolutely strict guidelines on what and how to do, as each case is strictly individual. No doubt that we do require medical experiments to be conducted in order to ensure the well-being of the humankind, but the researchers should be careful with their decisions, as patient’s life is at the stake, and Hippocratic Oath is something that should never be forgotten by the doctor under any circumstance.