September 6, 2006

Ethics in medicine and sports

Posted in Iramville at 9:25 am by Iram

Today we met our humanities discussion groups to discuss an issue that is often in the news – medical ethics. We discussed the driving forces that lead people to cheat on their exams, that lead scientists to cheat in their research, and that lead physicians and patients alike to cheat when it comes to administering care and following healthcare instructions. But the really interesting thing was when we were asked by our facilitators to liken the scenarios found in the scientific world to the scenarios that manifest in the competitive sports industries. When bicyclers and wrestlers and baseball players dope up to increase their own performance, isn’t this the same thing as when a medical student cheats on an exam? For an athlete, using illegal enhancers impacts their opponents negatively by creating an artificial disadvantage and impacts their fans negatively by displaying a bad example that is likely to be followed. For a medical student, cheating on an exam impacts their future patients negatively by putting them directly in harm’s way. Sure, the two situations are not exactly the same and thus are not exactly comparable, but they have many parallels. In both situations, one individual’s choice to use unfair practices does not result in consequences isolated to that particular individual; their choice actually results in negative affects that radiate to the many other individuals around them.

One of the points that was brought up in our discussion with regards to this subject, and that I would appreciate feedback on, is that when it comes to sports doping, there are some drugs that are illegal (like erythpoetin) and some that are perfectly legitimate (like cortisone). But, how did that line get drawn? Can’t you, to some extent, say that it would then be fair to make all of the drugs legal so that nobody has an unfair advantage and then if somebody chooses to put their own life at risk by using one of the exceptionally dangerous drugs that’s up to them?

1 Comment »

  1. Aamir said,

    Can’t you, to some extent, say that it would then be fair to make all of the drugs legal so that nobody has an unfair advantage and then if somebody chooses to put their own life at risk by using one of the exceptionally dangerous drugs that’s up to them?

    i think im going to answer your question with another question

    why dont we just make all of our soldiers who enter the army do PCP when fighting? after all, they were the ones signing up for the army and they knew the risks involved. (sure, drugs have been tested in the past, but not used in battle)

    and the line has to be drawn in a safe place.


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