Henrietta Lacks Ethics

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Dur 1 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Casualties of unethical medical practices By Jodi Durfee Biology 102A Jones February 14th 2013 Dur 2 Key Issues: The story of Henrietta Lacks is one of modern science that is of most importance to modern society as a whole. There are many different issues surrounding this story but there are two that stand out in my mind. The first issue is the complete lack of informed consent on multiple physicians’ parts when directly dealing with Henrietta and her family. The second issue is the many violations of patient confidentiality standards which took place before and after Henrietta’s death. Both of these issues directly affected not only Henrietta, but also her extended family as well as the…show more content…
Henrietta’s medical records which contained identifying personal information were provided to media and studied by multiple physicians. The information shared in her medical documents was a complete violation of her privacy. In addition to the release and review of medical records, her name was published and directly linked to HeLa in news articles. The release of Henrietta’s name completely destroyed any shred of privacy she had left in life and death, as well as her families. “With that publication, Henrietta’s doctor and his colleagues forever linked Henrietta, Lawrence, Sonny, Deborah, Zakariyya, their children, and all future generations of Lackses to the HeLa cells, and the DNA inside them” (Skloot 173). Unfortunately at this point in time Henrietta was no longer alive and able to offer her thoughts and grievances on the matter, but her family was. Henrietta’s family and her daughter Deborah suffered immensely from the violation of her mother’s privacy. The Lacks family is a mainstream example of exploitation from the medical community as a whole. Relationship to Other Issues: A current issue which I feel can be related to the issues of Informed Consent and Patient Privacy pertains to the harvesting and research of Human embryonic stem-cells. According to an article written by Andrew Siegel, an established medical ethics journalist, entitled “Ethics of Stem Cell Research,” he states that “despite the tremendous therapeutic promise of HESC research, the research has met with heated opposition because the harvesting of HESCs involves the destruction of the human

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