Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment
Bad Blood is a rather disturbing account of a certain experiment that was conducted in Alabama, specifically Macon County. This experiment was conducted between the year 1932 to 1971, and involved several rural black men who were suffering from Syphilis. A few medical professionals, including scientists and physicians, conducted the experiment. This study began as a means to invoke more concern for treatment of the blacks, more specifically the ones who were suffering from syphilis (James, 51). This was meant to impact positively in the field of public health. Syphilis had become a major health risk way back in 1930s and the solution of the disease was of crucial significance.
As such, the Public Health Sector was looking for possible ways of managing the disease that had been termed a national epidemic that majorly affected a great population, characterized by poverty, who were living in the rural counties of the South. Upon the end of the research, it followed that there was need to conduct new research that would study the untreated syphilis in males. Following this, he author of Bad Blood, James Jones, decided to volunteer his research work. His main aim was to prove that the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was morally wrong. In addition, he wanted to show that the experiment was also ethically incorrect. Moreover, James Joes wanted to prove through his research that the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment infringed in the civil rights of the subjects with regards to informed consent.
In the book, Jones brings a vivid picture of how the conditions of life were in Macon County. The poor people inhabited this county. It is from these people that the experiment was conducted. Jones depicts the people to be desperate, illiterate, poor as well as lacking proper health care (James, 45). Majority of the residents admitted not to acquire any proper medication nor consult professional doctors following the expenses incurred alongside their financial status that barred them from accessing medical services. In order to maintain the fact that the experiment was morally and ethically wrong, Jones cites several instances when doctors issued outright lies to their patients concerning their ailments. In some instances, the doctors withheld the crucial health information that was to be issued to the clients. This follows the negative attitude that the doctors maintained concerning the black men. In this case, Jones tries to hint that maybe it was through racial discrimination that the blacks were subjected to such unethical treatments by the medics. The doctors who were involved in the experiment were never concerned about the life and health of the subjects. The maintained high standards of dishonesty to the patients who did not even know what Syphilis was all about. The act of withholding information from the patients was morally and ethically wrong.
Consequently, the end of the controlled experiment elicited more curiosity by several doctors, including Doctor Clark, to determine the effects of the untreated Syphilis in men (James, 35). This followed the increase in number of the men who were affected by the disease past the expectations of the medics. The inception of a new research on the effects of the disease on these men was morally wrong. This is because the research was to be conducted at the peril of the subjects. The men were to be subjected to harm and health risks. Dr. Clark sought for approval from other doctors who granted their consent. Jones uses this phenomenon to indicate the fact that the doctors whom Clark sought approval lacked moral and ethical codes medical profession (James, 37). This shows that in the late nineteenth century, doctors lacked official moral and ethical codes of practice as depicted by Jones.
As such, they could just engage and approve issues that could put the lives of their subjects into risk. This is evident when the subjects later succumbed to their health conditions and even more research followed autopsies on the death. This was effected through Nurse Rivers who pretended to be absorbed in the plights of the subjects but was in disguise a researcher. This was ethically wrong since it denied the patients the crucial information that they were supposed to have. Nurse Rivers was used during the autopsies to convince the families of the affected to get their consent for the research. In addition, she was also used to convince the subjects not to get treatment for their illnesses. This was a clear evidence of moral and ethical wrongs practiced by the medics in the research study.
Therefore, it was evident that the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was morally wrong. In addition, the experiment was also ethically incorrect. Moreover, James Jones managed to prove through his research that the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment infringed in the civil rights of the subjects and dnied the subjects the right to proper medical attendance, treatment and information.
Jones, James H. Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. New York: Free Press, 1993. Print.