Tuskegee Syphilis Study
Tuskegee Syphilis Study
Public Health Leadership
The public health nurse who was involved in the study had a responsibility to provide adequate and detailed information to the participants. Participants were not fully informed to make autonomous decisions to be part of the study. Lack of informed consent undermined the trust of patients, especially minority communities towards public health workers (Harper et al., 2018). The public health nurse had a responsibility to observe maleficence and non-maleficence. The nurse had an obligation to avoid harming the patients since the treatment was withheld after it became a treatment of choice. The study did not observe justice since only African-Americans were recruited into the study. Violation of the ethical principles in the research and treatment of patients with syphilis raises questions on the efficacy of the program (Harper et al., 2018).
Lack of adherence to ethical principles affects acceptance of similar programs among African-Americans in the future. It erodes the loyalty and trust of minority groups towards healthcare workers (Rosenthal, 2020). In the future, healthcare nurses will struggle to research health issues affecting African-Americans. Another risk to the profession is legal consequences since the participants can move to court to seek compensation for the wrongdoing (Rosenthal, 2020). The effects on the community and profession have dire consequences. The profession has a risk of facing challenges in the future while attempting to introduce similar changes.
Public Health Nursing Ethics
One of the public health competencies that would guide a healthcare worker facing an ethical dilemma is cultural competency. Cultural competency involves respecting the community and cultural beliefs. The research did not respect the autonomy of the patients. It was a form of discrimination against a minority group in the nation (Moosapour et al., 2020). Respecting the autonomy of patients, their belief system, and avoiding forms of exploitation is vital for the success of the research. The community dimension of practice skills is another competence vital for the research. It is critical to engage the community respectfully before engaging in research (Moosapour et al., 2020). Providing critical information to the potential participants is an ethical practice for gaining informed consent. In the case study, the participants did not get an opportunity to engage with the healthcare workers to ask questions about the treatment.
The guidelines for decision-making is to focus on ethical practice. The guidelines are enshrined in the principles such as autonomy, informed consent, justice, fidelity, non-maleficence, accountability, veracity, and beneficence. The principles are critical in guiding nurses to make appropriate decisions in ethical dilemmas (Tolchin et al., 2020). Adhering to ethical principles improves the quality of care for patients from diverse backgrounds. It improves the patient-centered care approach by engaging participants as individuals who have input.
The improvements made to prevent similar incidences from happening include educating healthcare workers on the role of ethical practice and formulating new policies. Nurse practitioners have been trained on how to uphold ethical practice (Tolchin et al., 2020). For instance, due to the diverse communities in society, nurses are encouraged to respect the belief system of patients. Other changes include formulating laws that can hold a nurse responsible for unethical practice (Tolchin et al., 2020). The boards of nursing in different states can issue a warning or execute disciplinary action against nurses.
Laws on informed consent require nurses to provide detailed information to a patient about treatment or research. A patient will sign as an indication of consenting to the treatment. Patients below 18 years will require consent from a patient (Harper et al., 2018). A patient with mental illness or disability may require a guardian or parent since they cannot comprehend the information.
Harper, L., Herbst, K. W., & Kalfa, N. (2018). Ethical issues in research: Human and animal experimentation. Journal of Pediatric Urology, 14(3), 287-288.
Moosapour, H., Zarvani, A., Moayerzadeh, M., & Larijani, B. (2020). Ethical Considerations of Biomedical Product Development. In Biomedical Product Development: Bench to Bedside (pp. 131-151). Springer, Cham.
Rosenthal, M. S. (2020). The Tuskegee Syphilis Study: Miss Evers’ Boys (1997). In Healthcare Ethics on Film (pp. 3-72). Springer, Cham.
Tolchin, B., Conwit, R., Epstein, L. G., & Russell, J. A. (2020). AAN position statement: Ethical issues in clinical research in neurology. Neurology, 94(15), 661-669.