Thursday, December 30, 2010

Center in the News

Encore Broadcast: The Ethics of Living Forever

KCUR Radio
December 29, 2010

Today, bioethics is focused on helping people make difficult choices in an informed way, choices that often involve how we will die.

But what happens when science offers an opportunity for individuals to evade the grave entirely, or at least for another 25, 50 or 100 years? Is it okay to want to live forever?

Today, an encore broadcast Steve Kraske's conversation with Dr. Glenn McGee, about the ethical choices created by the incredible new technologies that are changing how long we can live.

Pain contracts can undermine patient trust, critics say
Kevin B. O'Reilly
American Medical News
December 27, 2010

12.5 million Americans 12 and older used prescription pain relievers in 2009. That kind of adversarial approach is "corrosive to the relationship" and threatens patients in need with abandonment, said Myra Christopher, CEO of the Center for Practical Bioethics, that convened an April meeting on pain contracts.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top Ten Lectures in Bioethics

The Center for Practical Bioethics is pleased to provide public lectures throughout the year on a wide range of topics. In early 2009, the Center began making these lectures available online as "Lectures in Bioethics."

Here are the Top Ten lectures since then. Thank you for your interest and we look forward to another busy year in 2011.

Lorell LaBoube


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Top 10 Podcasts: The Bioethics Channel

Greetings All,

Below you will find list of Top 10 All Time episodes of The Bioethics Channel.

2010 has been a year of tremendous growth as downloads of the program have jumped 77 percent.

Thanks for listening and best wishes for a great holiday season.

Lorell LaBoube

The Bioethics Channel Top 10 All Time


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christopher Named to Institute of Medicine Committee on Pain

The Institute of Medicine has named Myra Christopher, president and CEO of the Center for Practical Bioethics, to a committee charged with addressing “the current state of the science with respect to pain research, care, and education; and explore approaches to advance the field.”

The project is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. For more information click on the links below.



Monday, December 20, 2010

The Surrogacy Saga

John Carney
December 17, 2010

Surrogate decision makers need more help from doctors on end of life care. That’s according to recent articles in medical journal that explore where to draw the line between physician guidance and respecting surrogate and patient wishes.

John Carney, vice president for aging and end of life at the Center for Practical Bioethics, explains in this edition of the Bioethics Channel.

Link to podcast here.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bioethics Commission Reports on Synthetic Biology

"It's a complete 180 from the prior council," said Arthur Caplan, a University of Pennsylvania bioethicist who testified before the commission.
"It sees its mission, and says so very overtly, as getting involved in practical policy guidance. We're not getting the philosophical treatise treatment from this council."


Presidential commission urges caution on 'synthetic biology', Rob Stein, Washington Post, December 16, 2010

The Bioethics Commission and Synthetic Biology, Summer McGee, PhD, The Bioethics Channel, December 10, 2010

The Ethics of Synthetic Cells, Glenn McGee, PhD, The Bioethics Channel, May 28, 2010

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

S Korean Company Cleared in Deaths Following Stem Cell Therapy

December 14, 2010

"It is very important that we distinguish the words cause and correlation," said bioethicist Glenn McGee, who participated in the ICMS investigation.

McGee explained that the dangers of the medical procedures undertaken in the treatments does not mean the stem cells used in the therapy are dangerous.

Link to story here.


Monday, December 13, 2010

The Bioethics Commission and Synthetic Biology

Summer McGee, PhD
December 10, 2010
11 minutes 51 seconds

Some early advice for synthetic biology from the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. Essentially, don’t clamp down too hard on the research, and anticipate some risk from synthetic biologists who are not covered by the regulations.

Dr. Summer McGee discusses the issue with Lorell LaBoube in this edition of the Bioethics Channel. Dr. McGee is the director of graduate studies at the Center for Practical Bioethics and executive editor of the American Journal of Bioethics. She’s also written a book about presidential bioethics commissions.

Link to podcast here.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Medicare Expanded Coverage of Voluntary Advance Care Planning

Passing this along from our friend Thaddeus Pope at the Medical Futility Blog.


We received a number of comments from physicians, healthcare providers, and others urging us to add voluntary advance care planning as an element to the definitions of both the ``first annual wellness visit'' and the ``subsequent annual wellness visit.''

They base their recommendation upon a number of recent research studies, and the inclusion by statute of a similar element in the existing initial preventive physical examination (IPPE) benefit.
For more click here.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Docs Benefit from Dealing with Death

Crystal Phend
MedPage Today
December 06, 2010

Although the clinicians indicated that caring for those near death gave them more awareness of their own mortality, they also took a lesson on cultivating their spiritual life and living in the present, Shane Sinclair, PhD, reported online in CMAJ.

For more click here.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Ethics of Disorders of Consciousness

Joseph Fins, MD
Art Caplan, PhD

“Ethical Considerations in Disorders of Consciousness.” That’s the title of an interview with Dr. Joseph Fins … published in the October-December issue of the American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience.

In this edition of The Bioethics Channel Dr. Fins, chief of medical ethics at Weill Cornell Medical College, discusses this issue with Dr. Art Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Link to podcast here.

PS: Thanks for listening to The Bioethics Channel. Since launching the program in February 2009, we have produced 122 episodes with more than 45,000 downloads. And the numbers keep growing each month.

In order to keep improving the program, please take a few minutes to complete an online survey by clicking


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Top Ten Podcasts November 2010

Here are the Top 10 episodes by download of The Bioethics Channel during the month of November.

Thank you!

Lorell LaBoube

Top Ten Podcasts November 2010

The Cruzan Family 20 Years Later, Chris Cruzan White, Angie Broaddus and Miranda Lewis

Working with the Aging Workforce, Steven Joiner

Facing Death, Judith Nelson, MD, Miri Navasky and Karen O’Connor

The Challenges of Caregiving, Sandy Silva, Center for Practical Bioethics, and Lyn Polk, Kansas City Chapter - American Red Cross

The Home of the Future, Michael Dodd and Deborah Hartzler

The State of Altered Consciousness, Joseph Fins, MD

KC4 and Clay County MO, Tina Uridge, Executive Director, Clay County Senior Services, and Charlie Hughes, Board Vice Chair

Be Careful How You “Help”, Drew Edmondson, Attorney General - Oklahoma

The Ethics of Selling Human Eggs, Glenn McGee, PhD

Futile CPR. Always Wrong?, Rosemary Flanigan


Catholic Hospital Bashing? No!

Rosemary Flanigan

I shouldn't be paranoid so close to Christmas, but when I saw the article from, "Turning off heart devices near life's end stirs ethical, legal debates," I thought, "Catholic hospital-bashing again!"

And lo! it wasn't Catholic hospitals this time which were bashed--it was some doctors, a few lawyers, and the usual number of patients/families!

I have used this deactivation issue with my ethics brown bags this fall and relied upon an article by Ron Hamel, Ph.D., senior director, ethics at Catholic Health Association. (It was sent to CHA-member organizations. I don't know if it was in Health Progress or not.)
ANYWAY, Ron says that the recommendations of the Heart Rhythm Society (cited in the online piece) are very much in keeping with our tradition, but Ron also stressed the need for physician education on the issue.

And, of course, for educating everybody who might at some time have a pacemaker or ICD.

This statement from the Mayo Clinic Proceedings cited in the online article appalled me: "Almost one-third of medical professionals surveyed considered withdrawl of a pacemaker in a pace-maker-dependent patient as physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia. . . ."

Didn't we hear that kind of statement in Quinlan and again in Cruzan? If a burden/benefits discussion with my physician would lead me to request the pacemaker be deactivated since I was dying, why would the physician balk?



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ethics of Deactivating Implantable Devices

Turning off heart devices near life's end stirs ethical, legal debates

Kevin B. O'Reilly
American Medical News
November 24, 2010

Only 12% of lawyers thought turning off a pacemaker amounted to physician-assisted suicide, compared with 24% of patients. One in 10 doctors thought deactivating a defibrillator was akin to assisted suicide, said the study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Link: Ethics of Deactivating Implantable Devices, Glenn McGee, PhD, John B. Francis Chair in Bioethics, The Bioethics Channel, 17 minutes 56 seconds