Take the following case. You are in a city in which the plague is raging. You, as a doctor, have a drug that you could use to combat the plague. However, you must test it on somebody. The commander, or let us say the mayor of the city, comes to you and - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Take the following case. You are in a city in which the plague is raging. You, as a doctor, have a drug that you could use to combat the plague. However, you must test it on somebody. The commander, or let us say the mayor of the city, comes to you and


Take the following case. You are in a city in which the plague is raging. You, as a doctor, have a drug that you could use to combat the plague. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Take the following case. You are in a city in which the plague is raging. You, as a doctor, have a drug that you could use to combat the plague. However, you must test it on somebody. The commander, or let us say the mayor of the city, comes to you and

  • Take the following case. You are in a city in
    which the plague is raging. You, as a doctor,
    have a drug that you could use to combat the
    plague. However, you must test it on somebody.
    The commander, or let us say the mayor of the
    city, comes to you and says, Here is a criminal
    condemned to death. Save us by carrying out the
    experiment on this man. Would you refuse to do
    so, or would you do it?

The Medical Ethos, Nazi Medicine, and the
Nuremberg Code
  • Brian Callender, M.D.

  • Progression of ideas and theories into policies
    and then into practice can result in grave
    consequences for medicine and humankind

The Medical Ethos
  • Composed of interlocking set of views about the
    patient, the physician, and the medical
  • Historical core values of medicine compassion,
    healing, relief of suffering
  • Physicians role centered on healing and
  • Special worth endowed upon the sick
  • Medicine is compassionate and apolitical

The Medical Ethos
  • Long held view that the ethos was immutable and
    that its values were stable despite individual
    and cultural variation
  • Immune to social, political, and economic

Hippocratic Oath
  • Primum non nocere first, do no harm
  • Focus on the individuals suffering
  • Responsibilities of physician are not stratified
    on the basis of a hierarchy of worth or on social
    priorities of the state

Social Darwinism
  • 1859, Charles Darwins Origin of Species
  • Application of principles of natural selection to
    human populations
  • Improvement of population through selective

Social Darwinism
  • Social Darwinists stressed that the integrity
    of populations was threatened because medicine
    began to destroy the natural struggle for
  • Shift in social balance
  • The poor, misfits, and the genetically feeble
    were overwhelming the talented, able, and
    genetically strong

  • 1883, Francis Galton
  • Eugenics the good birth
  • Aimed at enhancing the quality of populations by
    modification of natural selection through
    selective breeding
  • Programs in the United States, Britain, and

Racial Hygiene
  • 1894, Alfred Ploetz
  • If the fit were to be primary survivors,
    counter-selective forces should be avoided,
    including medical care for the weak, because this
    promoted reproduction among them
  • Hierarchy of human worth
  • subhuman, life without value, useless
    eaters, useless life, ballast

Racial Hygiene
  • Movement included physicians, industrialists,
    academics, politicians
  • Expanded rapidly
  • Became a respectable part of German biomedical

  • Concerted shift from the development and care of
    the individual to the welfare of society as a
  • Physicians were encouraged to move from doctoring
    the individual to doctoring the nation

United States
  • Sterilization laws in the U.S.
  • Resulted in the involuntary sterilization of
    60,000 persons
  • Upheld by the Supreme Court in Buck v. Bell, 1924
  • It is better for all the world, if instead of
    waiting to execute degenerate offspring for
    crime, or to let them starve for their
    imbecility, society can prevent those who are
    manifestly unfit from continuing their kind
    Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • Three generations of imbeciles are enough
  • Racial segregation

How Could this Happen? Historical Context
  • Complicity of the German biomedical enterprise
    needs to be examined in historical context
  • Expanding role of science to solve problems
  • Industrialization and urbanization
  • Poverty, crime, spread of infectious disease (TB,
    syphilis, etc), expanding rise in mental illness
  • Social, economic, political upheaval of post-WWI
    Germany, including the loss of millions of young,
    fit Germans during the war.

Medicine and Dictatorship
  • Science under dictatorship becomes subordinate
    to the guiding philosophy of the dictatorship -
    Leo Alexander, M.D.
  • Rational utility replaces moral, ethical, and
    religious values
  • Medical science becomes an instrument of
    political power
  • Planning, initiation, administration, and
    operation of state policies and programs

Nazi Medicine
  • National state must see to it that only the
    healthy beget children by modern medical
    needs. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
  • Hitler asked that the German medical profession
    move into the forefront of the race question
  • Racial hygiene was to be the task of the German

Nazi Public Health
  • Nazi director of public health, Dr. Arthur Guett,
    in The Structure of Public Health in the Third
    Reich, 1935
  • It is the supreme duty of a national state to
    grant life and livelihood only to the healthy and
    hereditarily sound portion of the people in order
    to secure the maintenance of a hereditarily sound
    and racially pure folk for all eternity. The life
    of the individual has meaning only in light of
    that ultimate aim, that is, in the light of his
    meaning to his family and to his national state

The German Medical Establishment
  • Accepted, supported, and were instrumental in the
    application of racial hygiene policies
  • Physicians adjusted to and accepted a new
    hierarchy of human worth that devalued the
    infirmed, the disabled, the genetically blighted
  • Embraced belief that to heal the nation was
    incomparably more important than curing
  • Racial hygiene accepted as massive public health
    measure as dictated by the state

Physicians in the Nazi Party
  • 6 of physicians belonged to the National
    Socialist party prior to Hitlers coming to power
  • By late 1933, almost half of all physicians
    belonged to the Nazi Party
  • 26 belonged to the SA
  • 7 belonged to the SS

Nazi Medicine
  • Turned away from the sick and useless and
    focused on a healthy state
  • Campaign of propaganda and dehumanization
  • Focused on disease prevention and education
  • Powerful and effective public health programs
  • Anti-smoking
  • Cancer prevention
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise

  • Rise of Nazi power
  • Political and judicial will of the state
  • Willing medical establishment
  • Policies
  • Nuremberg laws
  • Sterilization laws
  • Euthanasia

The Nuremberg Laws
  • Excluded Jews from citizenship and prevented
    marriage or sexual relations between Jews and
  • Marital health laws required couples to submit to
    medical examination prior to marriage to prevent
    racial pollution

Sterilization Laws
  • 1933 Sterilization Law Law for the Prevention of
    Hereditarily Diseased Descendants
  • Allowed involuntary sterilization of anyone
    suffering from disease thought to be genetically
  • Feeble-mindedness, manic-depression,
    schizophrenia, malformation, deafness, blindness,
    epilepsy, alcoholism

Sterilization Laws
  • Hereditary health courts (1 lawyer, 2 physicians)
  • Physicians required to
  • Undergo training in genetic pathology
  • Register every case of genetic illness known to
  • Fill sterilization quotas (50,000 annually)

Sterilization Consequences
  • Up to 400,000 (more than 1 of population)

  • September 1939
  • Physicians to grant mercy death to patients
    judged incurably sick by medical examination

  • All state institutions required to report on all
    patients who had been ill more than 5 years and
    who were unable to work
  • Filled out questionnaires giving name, race,
    nationality, marital status
  • Decision regarding who is euthanized was based on
    these questionnaires
  • Euthanasia became part of normal hospital routine

Nazi Human Experimentation
  • Two types of experiments/motivations
  • 1. Scientific pursuits designed to yield
    information applicable to military and political
  • 2. Advance personal goals/agendas
  • Political
  • Academic

The Nuremberg Doctors Trial
  • United States of America v. Karl Brandt et al
  • Oct 1946 - July 1947
  • 23 defendants (20 physicians, 3 assistants)
  • The defendants in this case are charged with
    murders, tortures, and other atrocities committed
    in the name of medical science.

Human Experimentation
  • High-altitude Experiments
  • individuals subjected to low-pressures to
    simulate atmospheric conditions at high altitudes
    (up to 68-thousand feet)
  • test the limits of human endurance at extremely
    high altitudes with and without oxygen

Human Experimentation
  • Freezing Experiments
  • victims placed in tank of ice water or kept naked
  • investigated how to treat people who had been
    chilled or frozen by testing different methods of

Human Experimentation
  • Malaria Experiments
  • victims infected by mosquitoes or injected with
    extract of mucous glands of mosquitoes
  • Mustard Gas Experiments
  • wounds deliberately inflicted on victims and then
    infected with poisonous gas in search of
    effective treatment for burns caused by mustard
  • Sulfanilamide Experiments
  • wounds infected with streptococcus, gas gangrene,
    and tetanus, then wood shavings and ground glass
    forced into wounds to test if sulfa drugs could
    improve survival

Human Experimentation
  • Bone, Muscle, Nerve Regeneration, and Bone
    Transplantation Experiments
  • section of bones, muscles, and nerves (including
    whole limbs) removed from victims and
    transplanted to other victims
  • Sea Water Experiments
  • victims ingested salt water
  • purpose was to develop method of making sea water
    drinkable through desalination

Human Experimentation
  • Epidemic Jaundice Experiments
  • subjects injected with epidemic jaundice
  • Sterilization Experiments
  • victims sterilized by x-ray, surgery, and drugs
  • goal was to develop cheap and quick sterilization
    methods (surgical sterilization was too expensive
    and slow)
  • Spotted Fever (typhus) Experiments
  • victims injected with typhus to test various

Human Experimentation
  • Poison Experiments
  • victims deliberately poisoned to time how fast
    death occurred and determine how much pain and
    agony various poisons caused
  • Incendiary Bomb Experiments
  • victims burned with phosphorous to then determine
    the utility of ointments and liquid therapies
  • Jewish Skeleton Collection
  • 112 Jews were murdered to complete a skeleton
    collection for the Reich University at
    Strasbourg, France

Recurrent Themes of Nazi Medicine
  • Devaluation and dehumanization of certain
    segments of society
  • Medicalizing of social and political problems
  • Consequences of refusal
  • Bureaucratization of medical role
  • Lack of concern for medical ethics and human
  • Relationship between science and ideology

The Nuremberg Trial Closing Statements
  • Final statements of defendants devotion to the
    communitythe service of my beloved
    Fatherland.to overcome tremendous losses among
    the ranks of our comradesgood of mankindserve
    the good of humankindendeavor of mankind and was
    morally as well as medically justifiedI never
    failed in my duty to mankind

The Nuremberg Trial Verdict
  • 16 were found guilty
  • 7 received the death penalty by hanging
  • 5 life in prison
  • 7 were acquitted
  • Courts judgment included The Nuremberg Code
  • Consists of 10 basic principles to govern medical

The Nuremberg Code
  • 1. Voluntary consent is absolutely essential
  • 2. Experiment should yield useful results,
    unobtainable by other methods
  • 3. Based on animal experimentation
  • 4. Avoidance of unnecessary physical or mental
    suffering and injury
  • 5. Death or disabling injury should not be
    expected outcomes

The Nuremberg Code
  • 6. Degree of risk should not exceed expected
  • 7. Protection against injury, disability, death
  • 8. Scientifically qualified persons
  • 9. Subject may withdraw from experiment
  • 10. Discontinuation if experiment is likely to
    result in injury, disability, or death

The Nuremberg Codes Legacy
  • Refocused the medical ethos on the primacy of the
    patient as an individual
  • Serves as blueprint for todays principles that
    ensure the rights of subjects in medical research
  • World Medical Association Declaration of
    Helsinki, 1964 Ethical Principles for Medical
    Research Involving Human Subjects

The United States
  • Code applies to them and not us
  • ..good code for barbarians but an unnecessary
    code for ordinary physicians..

Human Experimentation in the United States
  • Tuskegee syphilis experiment
  • Human radiation experiments
  • Experiments where known effective treatments
  • Injection/implantation of infective agents and
    cancer cells

The Modern Medical Ethos
  • Scale of Worth
  • Primacy of the individual patient and justice and
    equity in medical care
  • Science needs to have concern for its human
  • Medical Hubris
  • Power of excessive certainty, especially with
    respect to public policy
  • Equity and fairness in delivery of health care

The Modern Medical Ethos
  • Core values of medicine require protection,
    especially from informed, engaged, and concerned
    professionals dedicated to the practice of

Should the Data be Used?
  • Is the data accurate? Scientifically flawed?
    Skewed by political imperatives?
  • Does its use imply complicity or acceptance?
  • Does its use demean medicine?
  • An intangible memorial to the victims?

Modern Implications
  • Human Genome Project
  • Involvement of physicians in execution of
    convicted criminals
  • Racial inequalities in access to healthcare
  • End-of-life issues
  • Stem Cell research
  • Abortion
  • Cloning
  • Treatment of prisoners, including forced feeding

  • Alexander, L. Medical Science Under Dictatorship.
    New England Journal of Medicine. 1949 241 39-47
  • Annas, G. and M. Grodin, Eds. The Nazi Doctors
    and the Nuremberg Code Human Rights in Human
    Experimentation. New York Oxford University
    Press, 1992
  • Barondess, J. Medicine Against Society Lessons
    from the Third Reich. JAMA. 1996 276(20)
  • Barondess, J. Care of the Medical Ethos
    Reflections on Social Darwinism, Racial Hygiene,
    and the Holocaust. Annals Internal Medicine.
    1998 129 891-898
  • Baumslag, N. Murderous Medicine Nazi Doctors,
    Human Experimentation, and Typhus. Westport, CT
    Praeger, 2005

  • Beecher, H.K. Ethics and Clinical Research. New
    England Journal of Medicine. 1966 274 1354-1360
  • Bogod, D. The Nazi Hypothermia Experiments
    Forbidden Data? Anaesthesia. 2004 59 1155-1156
  • Geiderman, J.M. Ethics Seminars Physician
    Complicity in the Holocaust Historical Review
    and Reflections on Emergency Medicine in the 21st
    Century, Parts I and Parts II. Academic Emergency
    Medicine. 2002 9(3) 223-240
  • Goodman, J., A. McElligott and L. Marks, Eds.
    Useful Bodies Humans in the Service of Medical
    Science in the Twentieth Century. Baltimore
    Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003
  • Grodin, M. and G. Annas. Legacies of Nuremberg
    Medical Ethics and Human Rights. JAMA. 1996
    276(20) 1682-1683

  • Kater, M. Doctors Under Hitler. Chapel Hill
    University of North Carolina Press, 1989
  • Katz, J. The Nuremberg Code and the Nuremberg
    Trial A Reappraisal. JAMA. 1996 276(20)
  • Lefor, A. Scientific Misconduct and Unethical
    Human Experimentation Historic Parallels and
    Moral Implications. Nutrition. 2005 21 878-882
  • Lifton, R. The Nazi Doctors Medical Killing and
    the Psychology of Genocide. New York Basic, 1986
  • Proctor, R. Racial Hygiene Medicine Under the
    Nazis. Cambridge Harvard University Press, 1988

  • Proctor, R. Nazi Science and Nazi Medical Ethics
    Some Myths and Misconceptions. Perspectives in
    Biology and Medicine. 2000 43 335-346
  • Seidelman, W. The Legacy of Academic Medicine
    and Human Exploitation in the Third Reich.
    Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. 2000 43
  • Spitz, V. Doctors from Hell The Horrific Account
    of Nazi Experiments on Humans. Boulder, CO
    Sentient, 2005
  • Shuster, E. Fifty Years Later The Significance
    of the Nuremberg Code. New England Journal of
    Medicine. 1997 337(20) 1436-1440
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