Journal of Applied Ethics and Philosophy;vol. 8


Debts and Duties of Patients Who Benefit from Medical Research with Reference to Arthroplasty

Rose, David Edward

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JaLCDOI : 10.14943/jaep.8.1
KEYWORDS : patient duties;medical research ethics;Kant;arthroplasty


The following article concerns the ethics of the treatment of cadavers and the duty that some agents may have with respect to the furtherance of knowledge via medical research. According to the argument which follows, a patient who benefits from medical treatment has an imperfect (or general) duty to contribute to the furtherance of medical knowledge and, in the specific case of treatment, a perfect (or defined) duty to allow one’s body to be the object of research which will contribute to that technique or intervention. The intention is to open a discussion which may lead to various applications of consent and recognitions of related duties being applied to the acceptance of joint replacements and, eventually, other interventions. The decision to begin with arthroplasty is due to the felt need to improve joint replacement prostheses which currently stands at more or less 150,000 interventions a year and 30 to 40,000 revisions per year. With an ageing population, the frequency of such interventions will only increase. Research on cadavers is required in both successful and failed replacements in order to improve the technology of artificial joints to achieve the non-controversial medical goals of alleviating suffering and restoring function to a patient. At present the objects of research are mostly the failed joints which are then revised and not the successful joints leading to a skewed data set for the improvement of such joints. The argument, though, may have wider appeal.