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ETHICAL QUESTION please read

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I just wanted to know everyone else's opinion on this - today in nursing class my instructor was teaching about STD's. She started to teach about syphilis and commented during the lecture, "You know the government does some sneaky things, years ago they injected hundreds of black men unknowingly with the syphilis virus. These men never knew they were infected until 20-30 yrs later when they started having neurological problems and had infected their partners" I was really taken off guard that a nursing instructor was tell the class this. I have never heard of this project, but after much research, the only evidence that I can find states that some of the men in the experiment had syphilis and some did not - but not because the government injected them with the virus. I did find documentation that states that the government knowingly did not treat these infected men once PCN became availabe. The government says they didn't treat them because they didn't think it would be worthwhile after the men were infected for so long. PLEASE TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK!! WAS THIS APPROPRIATE FOR A PROFESSIONAL NURSING INSTRUCTOR TO TELL HER CLASS? DO STATEMENTS LIKE THIS BRING US ALL CLOSER TOGETHER (AS NURSES SHOULD DO) OR JUST GIVE MORE REASONS FOR US NOT TO GET ALONG????

thanks for all that respond

Melissa

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I forgot to include, the name of the project was the Tuskegee Project that originated in the 1930's

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The instructor was sharing a truth and there's nothing unethical about that. Why would this cause you not to get along with your fellow nurses?! They took advantage of innocent people and your instructor is appalled by it as she should be. It was a disgusting breach of medical ethics and human decency.

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Are you questioning weather your insturctor should discuss this issue in an ethics class or about the experiment?

How is this making you as a class not get along? I think this is a great topic for ethics

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I was not saying that my class didn't get along, what I was saying is that how could a statement like this bring people together? And where is the evidence that supports the idea that this is a fact?

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Actually, the Tuskegee Project was real, but the men were not injected with syphilis, they had syphilis and were led to believe that they were receiving treatments for the condition. The govt knowingly didn't treat them as they wanted to document the progress of syphilis. Some men left the study and received PCN and were cured. Those that believed our govt died off slowly and painfully. I'm sorry to say that I don't understand your shock at this. Your instructor did this as a way to show you that all research isn't morally right, and is not looking out for the best interest of the population. You as the student should be appalled at the lack of ethical treatment of the individuals involved.

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People who already had syphilis were recruited for the study. They were not injected with the virus. That aside, it's an excellent topic for an ethics discussion.

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OK apparantly I have been misunderstood. I am appalled that these men were left untreated, I do not support the government in misleading these men. What I am appalled at is that the class was told that these men were UNKNOWINGLY INFECTED WITH SYPHILIS. Nursing has become such an evidenced based practice, and I haven't been able to find the EVIDENCE to SUPPORT THE IDEA that these men were INJECTED WITH THE VIRUS. The evidence that I have found just states that the men that were already infected were dishonestly not treated for the virus (though they were told that they would be treated)

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And this wasn't an ethics class, this was a med surg class lecture.

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I also am unsure why this is bothersome to the OP. The Tuskegee Project was real and because of it and other studies that disregarded basic human rights, we now have rigid standards regarding research on live subjects. All nurses should know about the Tuskegee Project because it was one of the worst examples of lack of ethical treatment of human beings in the name of research.

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I can't believe this!

I did a powerpoint lecture on this for my Professional Concepts class. And yes, the experiment was TRUE! It is called the Tuskegee Airmen Project and this will explain why there is a "mistrust" of the medical profession and the government among African Americans. And I am African American and I can still remember my Great Granny refusing to go to a doctor based on this.

I dont think what your instructor was out of line, because I researched this subject and when I did my presentation, I explained this is why the African American culture has a mistrust of the medical field and it all stems from this! When PCN became available, the government intentionally withheld treatment to those men who were infected to see how the disease would "progress". In fact, President Clinton apologized on the government's behalf to one of the Tuskegee airmen who was still living at the age of 96 back in 1998.

I suggest you do more research on this topic and it will explain who was really unethical. And on top of it, it may explain why some African Americans, especially older ones, are not compliant when it comes to medication. This has been passed down from generation to generation.

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My teachers statement did cause me to research the topic. I had never heard of this project and had no idea of the new laws and the President's Council on Bioethics that resulted in this particular study. I agree, I think all nurses should be aware of this study. At the same time, there is probably a lot about medical experiments that the public is unaware of.

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