Ethics, Health Care and Spinal Cord Injury: Research, Practice and Finance
Donovan, W H
Spinal cord 2011 Feb; 49(2): 162-74
Dating back to ancient times, mankind has been absorbed with 'doing the right thing', that is, behaving in ways approved by the society and the culture during the era in which they lived. This has been and still is especially true for the medical and related health-care professions. Laws and professional codes have evolved over the years that provide guidelines as to how physicians should treat patients, beginning with the one authored by Hippocrates. Only more recently, however, have laws and codes been created to cover health-care research and the advances in health-care practice that have been brought to light by that research. Although these discoveries have clearly impacted the quality of life and duration of life for people with spinal cord injury and other maladies, they have also raised questions that go beyond the science. Questions such as when, why, how and for how long should such treatments be applied often relate more to what a society and its culture will condone and the answers can differ and have differed among societies depending on the prevailing ethics and morals. Modern codes and laws have been created so that the trust people have traditionally placed in their healers will not be violated or misused as happened during wars past, especially in Nazi Germany. This paper will trace the evolution of the rules that medical researchers, practitioners and payers for treatment must now follow and explain why guiding all their efforts that honesty must prevail.
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