Conflict Between Research and Ethics

Topics: Tuskegee, Alabama, Ethics, African American Pages: 4 (1413 words) Published: August 23, 2010
Abstract
The Tuskegee Syphilis Study is one of the most horrendous examples of research carried out in disregarding basic ethical principles. The Tuskegee experiment was a forty year study conducted in Tuskegee, Alabama. The study was conducted on a group of three hundred ninety-nine poor and illiterate African American men. The disease, Syphilis, was not revealed to the African-American patients by the United States Government. The patients were not informed they were receiving treatment for bad blood. The Tuskegee Study symbolized medical and disregard for human life. During this era, medical ethics were not prevalent.

Conflicts between Research and Ethics Paper
The Tuskegee Syphilis Study remains one of the most outrageous examples of disregard regarding basic ethical principles and violated ethical standards related to research. During this era, African American men were considered subjects, not patients. In 1976, James Jones, historian, interviewed John Heller, Director of the Venereal Diseases Unit of the Public Health Service from 1943 to 1948, and Heller stated the following: "The men's status did not warrant ethical debate. They were subjects, not patients; clinical material, not sick people" (Tuskegee University, 2003). During this era, the level of medical treatment was toxic, dangerous and often questionable in respect to the effect on others. Researchers attempted to prolong treatment in order to study the different stages of Syphilis. All patients were kept in the dark about the disease that infected their bodies with. After treatments, the patients suffered from tumors, heart disease, paralysis, and insanity; whereas, they lacked the resources to obtain treatment for their illnesses. The Tuskegee experiment was identified as ‘the longest non-therapeutic experiment on human beings in medical history’ (Tuskegee University, 2003). Failures to obtain consent from the patients were a failure of the physicians and conducting the...
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