The Aspects Of Vulnerability Among The Exploited In Medical Research

2287 words - 10 pages

Essentially, everyone is in some state of vulnerability. However, some of us are more susceptible to harm due to our vulnerabilities. The susceptible are the individuals with the greatest risk. These individuals risk the loss of their autonomy, and maybe even their lives. Vulnerable populations can be found in every subset of society. However, as previously mentioned, there are some vulnerable populations that are at an even greater risk than others. Such populations may include; but are not limited to; sick individuals, the economically disadvantaged, women, children, and men from numerous disadvantaged backgrounds.
Vulnerable populations may at times be classified as the “them” in ...view middle of the document...

People that fall into this vulnerable population of the medically disadvantaged are more susceptible to mistreatment. Researchers prey on these vulnerable individuals because they know they are desperately searching for a cure, therefore they may do and believe anything the researcher is telling them. In most cases, this seems to be the problem; the patient believes the research is for their benefit rather than understanding the only one benefiting is the researcher.
Economically disadvantaged individuals are a part of a vulnerable population that is susceptible to greater risk simply because health care is such an expensive enterprise; one in which can be viewed as a luxury. When individuals do not have health insurance they lack the necessary means for treatment. Even those with health insurance do no always have a provider that covers the cost of certain procedures. Due to the economic downfall and decline in employment many are left without jobs and insurance benefits. Even if everyone were to have access to insurance, another dilemma arises. In Canada, health insurance is a universal good, in which everyone has access. The disadvantage is that there are limited resources with too many people trying to obtain these resources. Therefore, they have to wait in line for an opportunity to access healthcare. For someone that is in need of urgent care, this could be a serious issue.
Women, children, and men also fall prey to exploitation and other risk. This group of individuals seems to virtually cover everybody that could be vulnerable. However, there is something distinct about this particular vulnerable population. This population includes the following vulnerabilities; lack of education, ethnic minorities, the elderly, and those disadvantaged as previously mentioned (i.e.; medical and economically disadvantaged). In all this, individuals may have a hard time understanding what they are consenting to; thus, making it easier for coercion to occur. Various aspects of these vulnerabilities will be apparent in the proceeding examples.
The Willowbrook Hepatitis Studies was a case in which individual rights were severed and respect for one’s autonomy was lost. In 1947, in Staten Island, NY, Willowbrook was opened. Willowbrook State School was a state-funded institution for developmentally disabled children intended to accommodate approximately 4,000. By 1965, that number reached a population high of about 6,000. This high population mixed with a short staff led the institution to be in a deplorable environment. Since the living corridors were so close together, diseases such as parasites, pneumonia, and hepatitis spread rapidly.
That same year, researchers wanted to find a vaccine for the hepatitis disease. In order to examine the disease and its structure, the researchers fed live viruses of hepatitis to the children in Willowbrook. Hepatitis was a proliferating disease that ravaged through almost every patient and staff of the institution....

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