Principles of informed consent and non-maleficence

Discussion: I chose to look into the hepatitis study done between the years of 1956 and 1970 at the Willowbrook School for Mentally Retarded Children. During this study, experimental vaccines for hepatitis were administered to students of the school without a full explanation of the risks included in the study. New students admitted to the school were purposefully infected with viral hepatitis A and B and parental consent was obtained in a group method (da Gloria et al., 2015).  Ethical principles that were violated in this study include the principles of informed consent and non-maleficence. The parents of this study were not fully told the risks of participating in the study and consent was obtained in a group setting which could influence one’s decision.

Also, the principle of nonmaleficence is tied to the idea of doing no harm to our patients, when clearly, harm was inflicted on these children with the injections of a virus. As for the Code of Ethics, there are a number of provisions that were violated in this study. Some of these violations include provisions 1.1, 3.2, and 5.5. The researchers of this study lacked respect for human dignity and failed to protect the human rights of the students at this school (American Nurses Association, 2017). The researchers could have avoided these violations by taking a step back and realizing that they were exploiting the rights of children who were unable to speak for themselves. Also, the researchers could have worked harder to provide informed consent to the parents of the children with an explicit explanation of the research going to be conducted and what the benefits/risks would be. It is upsetting to look back on this study and see how long these experiments were conducted.

 

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