Category Archives: Health and Medicine

The Case Of The Trash-Talking Doctors, And The Price Of Trust

So, did you hear the one about why surgeons wear those masks?

So, did you hear the one about why surgeons wear those masks?

When I first heard about this case, I thought the jury award of $500,000 was ridiculous. The more I think about it, the more I begin to think it was appropriate.

Before his colonoscopy, a Vienna, Virginia patient pressed record on his smartphone, not intending to record everything that was said but ending up with the entire proceedings anyway. That was a half-million dollar stroke of luck for him, and the confirmation of dark suspicions for the rest of us. The resulting recording revealed that the surgical team amused itself by insulting and demeaning the semi-conscious anesthetized man throughout the procedure.

The anesthesiologist, Tiffany M. Ingham, was the ringleader and the primary offender.  Among her inspired bon motsContinue reading

65 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

Ethics Dunce: Keith Hartley, Cubs Fan

The one-handed foul ball catch made by Chicago Cubs fan Keith Hartley was all over the web and cable TV yesterday. If you missed it, here it is:

Nice catch. Of course, it interfered with the ball in play, keeping Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from making the catch. In most circumstances, Hartley would have been thrown out of the game.

That’s the least that should have been done to him. He endangered his son—twice.

How quickly people forget that a fan in Boston is still recovering from a near fatal encounter with a shard from a broken bat that sailed into the stands during a game at Fenway Park, causing many baseball-hating pundits to call for netting to protect fans at field level. (This is how the Barn Door Fallacy works, after all.) I hate the idea of the netting, but there is no question that the seats near the action can be perilous. I once had access to season tickets by the visiting team on-deck circle at Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium, and foul balls were whizzing by my head several times a game. I’m talking about line drives, not pop-ups, like the one Hartley caught.

To be blunt, his baby could have been killed. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Dunces, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Sports

The Washington Post’s “Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc” Gun Control Deceit

This is Johns Hopkins, who already had to deal with his parents putting an s after his first name, and now the Bloomberg School of Public Health attaches a bogus study to his name. Poor guy.

This is Johns Hopkins, who already had to deal with his parents putting an s after his first name, and now the Bloomberg School of Public Health attaches a bogus study to his name. Poor guy.

If you want a graphic example of why climate change skeptics distrust—and are right to distrust— the studies and computer models on the subject indicating that we are doomed unless we adopt Draconian measures, look no further than the Washington Posts’ embarrassing story on a study released this week in  the American Journal of Public Health.

It is deceptive, biased, misleading and incompetent from the headline: “Gun killings fell by 40 percent after Connecticut passed this law.” The headline is designed to fool anyone so ignorant and unschooled, not to mention devoid of critical thought, to fall for the classic fallacy of “post hoc ergo propter hoc,” which means “after this, thus because of this.” The thesis of the study in question, swallowed whole by the gun-control shills on the Washington Post staff, is that because gun deaths in Connecticut fell after a mid-summer 1994 state law was passed requiring a purchasing license before a citizen could buy a handgun, the law was the reason. Of course, the rates also fell after the baseball players strike that same summer: one could make an equally valid argument that stopping baseball limits deaths by gunfire.

The story, and the study, epitomize biased journalism hyping bad research. You see, since rates of deaths by gunfire also fell after the Connecticut law in 39 states where no such laws existed, the claim that Connecticut’s limits caused that state’s drop is impossible to prove, and irresponsible to assert. Especially since… Continue reading

22 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship

SPECTACULARLY Unethical Quote Of The Week: President Obama

“Don’t blame us for all the mistakes in the law—look at how long it is!”

…on the Affordable Care Act and King v.Burwell, at his news conference. When President Obama was asked about the soon to be announced Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell, he launched in an epic of unethical assertions and rhetorical games. I’ll highlight the unethical—not merely dishonest in some cases—statements and elaborate afterwards.

THE PRESIDENT: What I can tell state leaders is, is that under well-established precedent, there is no reason why the existing exchanges should be overturned through a court case. (1) It has been well documented that those who passed this legislation never intended for folks who were going through the federal exchange not to have their citizens get subsidies. (2)That’s not just the opinion of me; that’s not just the opinion of Democrats; that’s the opinion of the Republicans who worked on the legislation. The record makes it clear. (3)

And under well-established statutory interpretation, approaches that have been repeatedly employed — not just by liberal, Democratic judges, but by conservative judges like some on the current Supreme Court — you interpret a statute based on what the intent and meaning and the overall structure of the statute provides for. (4)

And so this should be an easy case. Frankly, it probably shouldn’t even have been taken up. (5)And since we’re going to get a ruling pretty quick, I think it’s important for us to go ahead and assume that the Supreme Court is going to do what most legal scholars who’ve looked at this would expect them to do. (6)

But, look, I’ve said before and I will repeat again: If, in fact, you have a contorted reading of the statute that says federal-run exchanges don’t provide subsidies for folks who are participating in those exchanges, then that throws off how that exchange operates. (7)It means that millions of people who are obtaining insurance currently with subsidies suddenly aren’t getting those subsidies; many of them can’t afford it; they pull out; and the assumptions that the insurance companies made when they priced their insurance suddenly gets thrown out the window. And it would be disruptive — not just, by the way, for folks in the exchanges, but for those insurance markets in those states, generally.

So it’s a bad idea. (8)It’s not something that should be done based on a twisted interpretation of four words in — as we were reminded repeatedly — a couple-thousand-page piece of legislation. (9)

What’s more, the thing is working. (10)I mean, part of what’s bizarre about this whole thing is we haven’t had a lot of conversation about the horrors of Obamacare because none of them come to pass. (11)You got 16 million people who’ve gotten health insurance. The overwhelming majority of them are satisfied with the health insurance. It hasn’t had an adverse effect on people who already had health insurance. (12)The only effect it’s had on people who already had health insurance is they now have an assurance that they won’t be prevented from getting health insurance if they’ve got a preexisting condition, (13)and they get additional protections with the health insurance that they do have.

The costs have come in substantially lower than even our estimates about how much it would cost. Health care inflation overall has continued to be at some of the lowest levels in 50 years. (14)None of the predictions about how this wouldn’t work have come to pass.(15)

And so I’m — A, I’m optimistic that the Supreme Court will play it straight when it comes to the interpretation. (16)And, B, I should mention that if it didn’t, Congress could fix this whole thing with a one-sentence provision. (17)

Wow, that’s even worse that I thought. Have there been more dishonest, deceptive, irresponsible statements by a President of the United States? Maybe. I don’t see how there could have been one that was much worse, though.

I’ll try to be brief, or else this will be a book. The numbers correspond to the bolded sections above… Continue reading

28 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Now THIS Is Res Ipsa Loquitur! The Case Of The Mom’s Topless Photos

In law, the Latin phrase res ipsa loquitur signifies a fact pattern that “speaks for itself,” making a prima facie case that would get it before a jury without any additional evidence or argument whatsoever. My favorite law book example was a 1918 negligence case in which a chewing tobacco manufacturer was sued by a customer who bit down on a plug and tasted a rotting human toe. Res ispsa loquitur, ruled the Mississippi Supreme Court. The opinion in Pillars v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. et al., 78 So. 365 (Ms. 1918) drily noted that the justices could

 “…imagine no reason why, with ordinary care human toes could not be left out of chewing tobacco, and if toes are found in chewing tobacco, it seems to us that somebody has been very careless.”

“The thing speaks for itself” also can apply to the question of whether a professional has engaged in unethical conduct, as in this disturbing case.

A Virginia woman has sued Dr. Pierre Chevray, a Houston plastic surgeon, because, contrary to his assurances, nude photos of her breasts were posted on his website, along with their owner’s name. Her 12-year-old son’s friends discovered  them in a Google search at a birthday party, giving her son quite a jolt. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, The Internet

Confused Ethics Observations On Caitlyn Jenner, Up and Down the Cognitive Dissonance Scale

Cognitive DissonanceThis whole episode is pure cognitive dissonance hell for me, with high scale values clashing with low scale conduct, and the result being as hard to analyze neatly and dispassionately as the aftermath of an elevator crash. But I’m a fool, so I’ll take a shot at it anyway.

1. Bruce, now Caitlyn, Jenner’s openness about his transsexual issues is brave and may yet help this misunderstood and routinely derided group achieve acceptance. PLUS.

2. She should have played ethics chess, however, and as a public figure who, she now says, always planned this transition, was irresponsible not to. Associating herself with the traveling freak, venality, bad taste and atrocious values caravan known as the Kardashians guaranteed that anything she did thereafter would be a legitimate object of suspicion. MINUS.

3. Turning her transition from Bruce to Caitlyn into a reality show was similarly counter-productive and harmful to her cause, assuming the cause really matters to her. I doubt that it does.  Reality shows equal schlock, emotionalism, manipulation, phoniness—and money. That won’t help the trans population. MINUS.

4. As the first bona fide celebrity to undergo gender reassignment (no, I don’t call Chastity Bono a real celebrity), Jenner could have handled this in a modest, measured manner that made trans people look reasonable, dignified, and rational. Unfortunately, Bruce Jenner was always a fame-addicted narcissist,  so her handling of the process is what you’d expect from one. Too bad. MINUS.

5. Thus we have the over-praised, over exposed, over-hyped, Vanity Fair cover, which is pure sensationalism, an exploitation of a serious issue for magazine sales, and a fraud. (Literally anyone can be dressed, shaved, and made up to look feminine.) Is Jenner interested in legitimizing and de-stigmatizing gender reassignment, or getting hubba-hubbas for a titillating man-to-bimbo transformation? Is Playboy next for Caitlyn? Don’t bet against it. MINUS for Vanity Fair; MINUS for Jenner

6. Is this really the way an ethical father kindly, sensitively and responsibly handles this kind of tectonic life change when he has six children and four step-children, including teenaged daughters? Admittedly, the daughters are crypto-Kardashians, so normal rules of delicacy might not apply. Still… MINUS for Jenner.

7. Republicans, conservatives and Neanderthals who are incapable of comprehending this serious topic should shut up about it.  There is grounds to criticize many aspects of this episode in American culture, but just making snarky comments like Neil Cavuto did on Fox is unproductive, unkind, divisive, and, frankly—I’ve been on Neil’s show, and I hate to say it—makes one look like an ass. If you don’t understand what’s going on, Neil, there’s no law that says you have to cover it. MINUS for Cavuto.

8. I had to shut off TV to get way from the breathless coverage of Jenner’s “coming out” photo. This isn’t respectful or responsible coverage, this is “Look! Bruce Jenner is HOT!!! She has BOOBS!” coverage, juvenile, degrading, and transparently salacious. It shouts “freak,” and that is exactly what Jenner should not want, nor should any LGBT advocate. Of course, the conduct of Vanity Fair and Jenner asked for it. MINUS for the news media.

9. To the extent that Jenner’s act promotes more public discussion and understanding of the issues facing trans individuals, this all may have a beneficial effect that may outweigh the negatives. Right now, there is too much static to tell. PLUS.

I hope.

101 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Childhood and children, Family, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

A Naked Teacher Principle Application That Nobody Will Disagree With! At Least I Hope Not…

...especially with her new boobs....

…especially with her new boobs….

Amazingly, this is the first bona fide sighting this year of the Naked Teacher Principle, an Ethics Alarms standard, and it is, as Hazel used to say, “a doozy.” (Yes, I will continue to try to educate younger readers in the finer points of Sixties pop culture no matter how obscure the reference is. Look up Ted Key, Shirley Booth, Don DeFore, and The Saturday Evening Post, my children…)

Since it has been so long, here is the NTP:

The Naked Teacher Principle: The Principle states that a secondary school teacher or administrator (or other role model for children) who allows pictures of himself or herself to be widely publicized, as on the web, showing the teacher naked or engaging in sexually provocative poses, cannot complain when he or she is dismissed by the school as a result. The original formulation of the NTP can be found here. It has had many tweaks and variations since, which can be found here.

Now hold on to your hats, public school fans. Here is the recent story that it governs: Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Professions, Workplace