PILOT HAVING HUNTINGTON’S DISEASE: ETHICAL ISSUES SURROUNDING THE “SACRIFICIAL LAMB” CASE.
When the father of an airline pilot dies of Huntington's disease, the airline does a routine random blood/drug screening. They instruct the lab to also screen for HD without informing the pilot. Now they want to fire him.
The Airline instruct the lab to screen pilot’s blood for Huntington’s Disease without informing the pilot. The Airline want to fire the pilot.
The privacy right of the pilot being violated.
Pilot’s career less significant than public safety.
DEFINITION AND TERMINOLOGY
Huntington's disease, chorea, or disorder (HD), is a progressive neurodegenerative genetic disorder, which affects muscle coordination and some cognitive functions, typically becoming noticeable in middle age. The disease is caused by a dominant mutation on either of an individual's two copies of a gene called Huntingtin, which means any child of an affected parent has a 50% risk of inheriting the disease The genetic test for HD consists of a blood test which counts the numbers of CAG repeats in each of the HTT alleles. A positive result is not considered a diagnosis, since it may be obtained decades before the symptoms begin. However, a negative test means that the individual does not carry the expanded copy of the gene and will not develop HD. Physical symptoms of Huntington's disease can begin at any age from infancy to old age, but usually begin between 35 and 44 years of age. If symptoms begin before about 20 years of age, they progress faster and vary slightly, and the disease is classified as juvenile, akinetic-rigid or Westphal variant HD. Symptoms are:
-lack of coordination
-jerky body movements
-mental illness/psychiatric problems
-heart disease etc
Only therapies to reduce physical and psychological symptoms.
AVIATION ACCIDENT STATISTICS
This 2 statistics clearly shows that pilot error is one of the major causes of aviation accidents. Even though there are auto-pilot system in plane, still it is not intelligent enough to fly the plane without the pilot. Pilot is a very important person and responsible for the safety of others. Thus, pilot having medical problems especially muscle coordination and psychology problem is just unacceptable. There are too much at stake to take the risk with pilot having HD. Why take the risk if don’t have to?
MALAYSIAN EMPLOYMENT ACT 1955
-If a employee lost his physical health ability to work, there is a possibility from him to be fired.
-The act of dismissing the employee must not be in rush and must consider other alternative work that can be given to him. TENTATIVE AGREEMENT between FEDERAL EXPRESS CORPORATION and THE AIR LINE PILOTS in the service of FEDERAL EXPRESS CORPORATION as represented by THE AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION, INT’L.
-Section 15C/1c(Alcohol/Drug Testing):
c. The Company may implement a non-mandatory change in a testing program only with the written consent of the Association. MISSING DATA
Does the pilot have the disease or not?
What kind of plane does he fly?
If he has HD what is the current stage of the disease?
What are the rules and regulation in the specific Airline industry? ASSUMPTIONS
The pilot has the disease.
Fly a passengers plane.
His disease is still not serious yet.
According to the available contract and law:
-The HD test is illegal.
-The pilot can be dismissed with compensation.
Freedom to make a rational decision.
Moral agent deserves respect.
Rights to ‘informed consent’
Without pressure, force or coercion
The pilot was not notified about the HD test.
There was no informed consent.
His privacy right has been violated.
His autonomic right has been taken away.
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
The greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.
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