In June 2014, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center began clinical trials for a procedure to treat victims of gunshot and knife wounds. In this procedure, surgeons drain the patient’s blood and replace it with saltwater, which induces hypothermia and slows down metabolism in the patients, giving surgeons valuable time to treat the wounds. During this time, patients are clinically dead, and doctors risk bringing the patient back to life in a vegetative state.
Despite the risk involved, doctors do not require consent from the patients or their families, as they obtained a federal exemption to informed consent laws. Legally, such exemptions are only allowed if the situation meets the following criteria: the condition is life threatening, it is not treatable by any proven means, the patient is unable to consent due to the condition, and no legally authorized person is able to provide consent. Nonetheless, some have said this procedure pushes the boundaries of medical ethics. This panel will explore the ethics of such exemptions and experimental procedures. Panelists will also consider if these exemptions are in line with basic human rights laws and if such procedures are worth the potential risks.
Moderator: Varun Awasthi, ZYGO Student Director
Michael Menchine, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine and Research Director, Keck School of Medicine
Michael Shapiro, Dorothy W. Nelson Professor of Law, Gould School of Law
Ankit Shah, MD, JD, Assistant Professor, Keck School of Medicine, Lecturer in Law, Gould School of Law, Attending Physician, LAC+USC Medical Center
Rima Basu, PhD Student, Dornsife Philosophy, and TA Fellow with the USC Center for Excellence in Teaching
ZYGO is a joint program of the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study and the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics. The series is organized by USC students in health and medicine who seek dialogue with USC faculty across disciplines in order to increase the integration of ethical themes into their curriculum.