Henrietta Lacks Informed Consent

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Informed consent tends to spark major ethical controversy in the medical world. Many people believe that ALL humans deserve the right to know what research or tests are being done within their body, as well as the understanding of all the risks and costs that are associated with treatment. Other people believe that the right of informed consent should vary from person to person. This disputable topic is also explored throughout the novel, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. As the story progresses, the reader soon discovers that without the lack of informed consent given to Henrietta Lacks, the discovery of the famous immortal HeLa cells would have never occurred. Informed consent for every single patient is not ideal because…show more content…
Informed consent involves the patient understanding “ all aspects of the trial, which are important for the participant to make a decision.... the participant voluntarily confirms his or her willingness to participate in a particular clinical trial and significance of the research for advancement of medical knowledge and social welfare”(Nijhawan 134). When provided informed consent, a patient might refuse to allow his or her doctor to take samples of what the medical professional believes is beneficial. Because of this refusal, the opportunity for potentially valuable research disappears. As a medical expert, you should take on the responsibility of deciding whether or not a patient’s condition becomes research. The research given by one person could become the breakthrough research that helps to save hundreds of lives. One of the most obvious examples of uninformed consent that occurs in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, appears when “Henrietta [is] unconscious on the operating table… though no one had told Henrietta...or asked if she wanted to be a donor—[Dr.] Wharton picked up a sharp knife and shaved two dime-sized pieces of tissue from Henrietta’s cervix”(Skloot 33). In the moment, taking part of a human body without their consent seems morally wrong, but in the big picture, the cervix cells that got taken from the already dying Henrietta Lacks, changed the medical world…show more content…
Fear can cause some patients to feel “ treated as mere "experimental model(s)" for the studies, while others refuse to take part because of historical evidences of clinical trial fraud and misconducts known to them” (Nijhawan 134). Preconceived patient perceptions lead patients to “believe that, trials will put extra burden on them. They assume that the conventional treatment is best and they are afraid of the unknown side-effects of new treatment. Convincing and receiving an informed consent from such patient is most difficult. In some case disclosing too much information of the potential side-effects may unnecessarily scare the patient away from a potentially life-saving or life-enhancing surgery or procedure”(Nijhawan 134). By telling patients too much information, informed consent can hurt patients more than protect them because of the mental block of fear and patient

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