2C - Yang Alex Yang TA Veronica Pear Assignment 2B Informed...

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Yang Alex Yang TA Veronica Pear Assignment 2B 5/5/12 Informed Consent In 1973, a nation-wide war on cancer was halted in its tracks by a contamination of cells from a woman named Henrietta Lacks. In an effort to better understand the cells and isolate the contamination, scientist Victor McKusick decided to collect DNA samples from the Lacks family. Unaware of the important role of Henrietta’s cells in medical research, the family was under the impression that they were being tested for the same cancer that had caused Henrietta to pass away years ago. Sent by McKusick, a doctor (Susan Hsu) drew tubes of blood from each of the family members. The results of the DNA collection were never released to the Lacks family. Worried and confused, Deborah Lacks agreed to another blood drawing in the hopes of obtaining some answers. On June 26, 1974, Deborah Lacks met McKusick himself for another blood drawing. She asked McKusick several questions, about the significance of the tests being performed on her, why her mother became sick, how Henrietta’s cells were still alive, and why they were so important. McKusick responded by telling Deborah of her mother’s cells, and how her cells had contributed to advances in the medical field, but failed to explain why he was drawing blood from Deborah. It was around this time that the laws of informed consent in medical practice were being formulated. “A Brief Introduction to Informed Consent in Research with Human Subjects” by Julia A. Pedroni and Kenneth D. Pimple analyzes four main elements of informed consent: information, understanding, voluntariness, and decision-making capacity. The “information”
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Yang aspect of informed consent is the idea that “potential subjects ought to be provided with all the available information that is relevant to a decision concerning participation” (Pedroni 43). That is to say, a patient should be allowed to expect a certain degree of information before submitting to any experimentation. Of the three, Pedroni and Pimple argue that in most cases the reasonable person standard (which requires professionals to provide relevant information to the subject as if the subject were a thoughtful person with no prior knowledge) should be satisfied, and supplemented by conversations intended to elicit and answer any questions that are not addressed. The “Understanding” element of informed consent is the idea that a subject must have ” a level of comprehension or appreciation of information that is adequate for meaningful deliberation about the decision” (Pedroni 44). This suggests the need to promote simplicity in consent forms and information given, so that a subject can better understand information that is relevant to their case. “Voluntariness” requires that the decision of consent be made by the subject’s own will and free of controlling influence.
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