The place of medicine in the American prison: ethical issues in the treatment of offenders.
In Britain doctors and others concerned with the treatment of offenders in prison may consult the Butler Report (see Focus, pp 157) and specialist journals, but these sources are concerned with the system in Britain only. In America the situation is different, both in organization and in certain attitudes. Dr Peter L Sissons has therefore provided a companion article to that of Dr Paul Bowden (page 163) describing the various medical issues in prisons. The main difference between the treatment of offenders in prisons in America and in Britain lies in the nature of the federal system which means that each state may operate a different system in a variety of prisons and prison medical services are as various. Nationally, the prison systems are 'structured to treat and cure the offender'. Therefore it follows that the prison medical officer is only one of the professionals concerned with this 'cure' of the offender. This principle also applies to any form of research: medical research in prisons is part of a programme which covers a wide field of social and judicial research. The prison medical officer (where there is one) has of course to look after sick prisoners, and the American idea of 'cure' is also expressed in the need for more corrective surgery where, for example, it is necessary to remove physical impediments to social rehabilitation. But a doctor is only found on the staff of those institutions which are large: in the smaller prisons there may be only first-aid facilities, and no specially appointed doctor in the community. Moreover medicines are often dispensed by medical auxiliaries who are sometimes prisoners themselves. Finally, in America prisoners are regularly invited to volunteer as subjects for medical and social research for which they are paid. In short, although it is hoped to 'cure' a prisoner he is a criminal first and a patient second. (+info)
Human experimentation with Neisseria gonorrhoeae: progress and goals.
Infection with Neisseria gonorrhoeae has adverse consequences for reproductive health and facilitates the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus. A major limitation in the development of gonococcal vaccines has been the lack of an animal model. Urethral infection can be initiated in male volunteer subjects through urethral inoculation. Several hundred patients have participated in studies using this experimental infection model. These studies have helped define the natural history of experimental infection and provided a better understanding of phenotypic and genotypic variation of gonococci in vivo. Isogenic molecular mutants can be used to define a role for gonococcal surface structures, including pilin and transferrin-binding proteins; recent results demonstrate that gonococci unable to express transferrin- and lactoferrin-binding proteins cannot cause urethral infection. The experimental model has proven to be an efficient means of studying gonococcal infection and focusing vaccine development. In addition, this model should allow vaccines to be tested quickly and efficiently. (+info)
An evaluation of "informed consent" with volunteer prisoner subjects.
"Informed consent" sets a goal for investigators experimenting with human subjects, but little is known about how to achieve or evaluate it in an experiment. In a 3-year, double-blind study with incarcerated men, we attempted to provide a "free and informed consent" and evaluated our efforts with an unannounced questionnaire administered to subjects after they completed the experiment. At that time, approximately two-thirds had sufficient information for an informed consent, but only one-third was well informed about all key aspects of the experiment and one-third was insufficiently informed to give an informed consent. We found that institution- or study-based coercion was minimal in our experiment. From our evaluation of the questionnaire and experience at the study institution, we conclude that an experiment with human subjects should be designed to include an ongoing evaluation of informed consent, and active attempts should be made to avoid or minimize coercive inducements. Experiments with significant risk, which require a long duration and/or large sample size relative to the institution's population, should probably not be performed on prisoner subjects. The experimenter should be independent of the penal institution's power structure. Presenting and explaining a consent form to volunteers on one occasion is probably an in adequate procedure for obtaining and maintaining an informed consent. (+info)
Can the written information to research subjects be improved?--an empirical study.
OBJECTIVES: To study whether linguistic analysis and changes in information leaflets can improve readability and understanding. DESIGN: Randomised, controlled study. Two information leaflets concerned with trials of drugs for conditions/diseases which are commonly known were modified, and the original was tested against the revised version. SETTING: Denmark. PARTICIPANTS: 235 persons in the relevant age groups. MAIN MEASURES: Readability and understanding of contents. RESULTS: Both readability and understanding of contents was improved: readability with regard to both information leaflets and understanding with regard to one of the leaflets. CONCLUSION: The results show that both readability and understanding can be improved by increased attention to the linguistic features of the information. (+info)
Should Zelen pre-randomised consent designs be used in some neonatal trials?
My aim is to suggest that there is a case for using a randomised consent design in some neonatal trials. As an example I use the trials of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in neonates suffering pulmonary hypertension. In some trials the process of obtaining consent has the potential to harm the subject, for example, by disappointing those who end in the control group and by creating additional anxiety at times of acute illness. An example of such were the trials of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in neonates suffering pulmonary hypertension. Pre-randomised consent could avoid or lessen these harms. However, a number of ethical objections are made to these research designs. They involve denial of information, using people, denial of choice, and "overselling" of allocated treatment. Furthermore, they are the wrong response; better communication might be the answer, for example. I argue that these objections are not completely persuasive. However, they are enough to suggest caution in the use of such designs. (+info)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held the first meeting on environmental ethics sponsored by the Scientific Advisory Panel and Board on 10-11 December 1998 in Arlington, Virginia (1). The report from the meeting will more completely inform scientists and the community of current issues. This editorial should serve as an initial brief of this meeting [which was held on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights (adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948)]. (+info)
The role of the individual and the community in the research, development, and use of biologicals with criteria for guidelines: a memorandum.
In view of the widely recognized need to use available vaccines and other biologicals and to develop new ones to control many diseases of world-wide importance, this Memorandum considers the increasingly complex problems that face investigators and public authorities that must review and approve pre-licensing studies and also large-scale regular use. It is stressed that the proper conduct of biologicals research in human beings must be considered from the scientific, sociological, ethical, and legal points of view. The Declaration of Helsinki is regarded of fundamental importance and its applicability to biologicals research is discussed. Recommendations are made for continued international collaboration in this field and "Criteria on the Role of the Individual and the Community in the Research, Development, and Use of Biologicals" are formulated. General criteria and specific criteria related to the design of field trials, human involvement in field trials, and surveillance of safety and effectiveness of biologicals in routine use are discussed. (+info)
Starting clinical trials of xenotransplantation--reflections on the ethics of the early phase.
What kind of patients may be recruited to early clinical trials of xenotransplantation? This is discussed under the assumption that the risk of viral infection to the public is non-negligible. Furthermore, the conditions imposed by the Helsinki declaration are analysed. The conclusion is that only patients at risk of dying and with no alternative treatment available should be recruited to xenotransplantation trials in the early phase. For some of the less dangerous cell or islet cell xenotransplantation other categories might be recruited. The risk of cell and islet cell xenotransplantation should, however, be weighted against the development of other technologies. In order to safeguard the public, the opt-out clause in the Helsinki declaration should not be fully applied. Legally binding rules on obligatory monitoring and restrictions should be imposed--before clinical trials start. (+info)