Skip to content

Posts by Robert E. Cranston, MD, MA (Ethics)

Ethics of Immigration

Yesterday I attended a seminar at our hospital entitled “Immigration Ethics.” I was hoping to be enlightened on this complicated topic. Unfortunately, the only messages I got were that immigrants are people, too, and we should be humane in dealing with them. I heartily agree with these two points, but the issue is complex and entails a number of points on which many people cannot agree. One major question in discussing this is whether we are referring to legally documented or undocumented immigrants. Most of us are grateful for the legal, highly skilled immigrant engineers, scientists and physicians who make our lives better in many ways.

Read More

God Uses Flawed People

If you ever want the entire world to know about the skeletons in your closet, run for political office. In the last year or so, we have heard countless accusations thrown at almost all of the potential presidential candidates, judicial nominees and current senators and representatives. A few of these may even be true! We may never know. Nonetheless, our country continues to function reasonably well under the guidance of these allegedly flawed leaders.

Read More

Abuse in Scientific Research

New Chinese Study Opens Ethical Can of Worms October 19, 2017

Scientists are often viewed as highly ethical, curious seekers of truth. In many cases, this is true. Unfortunately, in pursuit of “truth” some researchers cross important ethical lines, possibly rationalizing their crimes, in a utilitarian manner, as a means to better healthcare for the greater populace.

Read More

Trust in Patient Relationships

Trust in Patient Relationships June 13, 2019

Any third year medical student knows that the basic principles of medical ethics are autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice. At least, that is, according to Beauchamp and Childress’s Principles of Medical Ethics, first published in 1985. For many people these are the only specific guidelines we should employ in sorting through clinical ethics conundrums. In western medicine, Autonomy (with a capital A) seems to be the primary, major consideration. The customer is always right.

Read More

Mandatory Re-Testing?

Mandatory Re-Testing? April 11, 2019

Driver’s license renewal age standards vary from state to state. In Arizona, drivers over the age of 65 have a shorter license renewal cycle. In Hawaii, the renewal cycle drops from every eight years to every two years for persons over 72. In Illinois, the renewal cycle drops from four years to two after the age of 81, and then it drops to a yearly renewal cycle after 87 years.

Read More

Civility

Civility February 14, 2019

A few years ago, at the height of the embryonic stem cell research controversy and public debate, I was asked to be one of four presenters for a Friday medical school forum discussing this topic. There were three other presenters: a semi-retired professor whose area of work was in rehabilitation and advocating for accommodations for persons with disabilities, a social science professor and Dr. X, an MD/PhD whose main area of study was stem cell research. I was the lone conservative.

Read More

Nonconsensual Intimate Physical Examinations: Time to Stop

Nonconsensual Intimate Physical Examinations: Time to Stop December 13, 2018

Recently, a law professor I was breakfasting with asked an interesting question, “Is it ethical to perform pelvic exams on patients who are under anesthesia without their permission?” My immediate response was a quick, “No!” and then, “That is something that was done in the distant past, but the question was settled long ago. Without permission, this would be battery, essentially rape.”

Read More

Predictions

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

In medicine, patients and families want to know diagnoses, therapies, risks, benefits and side effects of proposed treatment options. At times the thing they most want to know is what is likely to happen to themselves or their loved ones based on possible interventions. This, however, may be the most difficult answer to give people.

Read More

How We Got Where We Are: Same-Sex Reproduction

Photo: Pexels

In the realm of sexual reproduction, the idea of in vitro fertilization, a technological (and for many an ethical) impossibility years ago, is now commonplace. And, as foreseen in the futuristic movie Gattaca, it may someday become the standard method of reproduction.

Read More

Rights of Conscience, Moral Complicity and Free Speech

Photo: Pixabay

The title of the article might lead a reader to believe the authors support a physician’s right of conscience, but they do just the opposite. They strongly assert the will of the patient over the conscience of the physician. They write, “Making the patient paramount means offering and providing accepted medical interventions in accordance with patients’ reasoned decision,” and “Health care professionals who are unwilling to accept these limits [putting aside their own conscience to support patient autonomy] have two choices: select an area of medicine, such as radiology that will not put them in situations that conflict with their personal morality, or if there is no such areas, leave the profession.” While this quote would seem to apply to a broad variety of issues, in the context of the article the authors are referring to abortion.

Read More

The “Five Solas,” Then and Now

The Five Solas, Then & Now December 14, 2017

October 31, 1517 is often identified as the birthdate of the Protestant Reformation. On this date Martin Luther purportedly nailed his “95 Theses” to the cathedral door in Wittenberg, Germany. Actually, as Eric Metaxas tells us in Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World…

Read More

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

The top 10 causes of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer, are Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), accidents, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, chronic renal disease and suicide. Some of these conditions are not preventable, so a more pertinent question is, what are the addressable risk factors for morbidity and premature death in general? And how do we focus on them with our patients?

Read More

The Three-Parent Child

The Three-Parent Child October 13, 2016

Imagine the heartache of learning that your new baby will die slowly and painfully before the age of seven, or much sooner, with the same disabling, degenerative disease that killed your last two children. Now, imagine all of this could be prevented by a newly developed technique that a world-renowned physician is willing to perform on your eggs to ensure your child’s good health. Does this sound too good to be true? Dr. Robert Cranston explains the ethical issues surrounding this new procedure.

Read More

IVF and Aging Parents

Photo: Pixabay

On April 19, 2016, Mohinder Singh Gill, age 79, and his wife Dajinder Kaur, 72, gave birth to their first child. Kaur, long past menopause, and Gill conceived their child with the help of Dr. Anurag Bishnoi’s IVF Clinic, reportedly employing their own egg and sperm.

Read More