Measles, Medicine, and Modern Ethics

The ongoing news reports of measles outbreaks in the United States and my concurrent readings for a course in Theories of Justice has gotten me thinking. A lot. I’m thinking about the undoing of medical progress and the unfortunate damage done by the now debunked Lancet study about a purported link between the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine…

Immortality & Ethics: The Henrietta Lacks Case

  In May 2018, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery installed this portrait of Henrietta Lacks while three of her grandchildren looked on. The fascinating story of this important woman was revealed in Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010). I initially read this book during residency, then revisited it two years ago for a…

The Dangers of Uninformed Autonomy

“There is a dignity in dying that doctors should not dare to deny.” [ Anonymous] Today, a patient I have been helping to take care of died. I and the medical team knew that she would die soon, but for the past 18 days, we have been sticking little bandaids on various components of her…