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"An agonizing read of medical irresponsibility" and racism: Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

 This book is probably one of the first of the expose type to zero in on medical culpability in the US. Most people tend to think that only Germany was capable of doing the atrocities that occurred during WWII. It was these atrocities that led to the Nuremburg Code of conduct for physicians and scientists, yet it was known prior to the Germans butchery that other countries including the US and England were equally responsible for using human beings for questionable experiments. As a student in medical school I came across references to this book and others like it. My interest lay in the fact that as a Deaf person, I know what it is like to have doctors treat me with disrespect and patronizingly. I started researching into how lack of education leads to people being taken advantage of by the medical establishment. In my research, so many referred back to this particular book, I decided I just had to read it. Not only have I read it but I have lent it to others who share my concern that there are medical practitioners out there like Kervorkian who would have no problem putting to death or using for unethical experiments, people who they view as less than people. Jones did a magnificent job of research and follow-up with those involved in this horrible fiasco. Not only were these doctors racist, but they considered anyone with lower education to be only as useful as an extent they treated these men with less care and concern then they treat animals used in experiments today. Jones was more than fair, including reasons for why these doctors and nurses, both black and white, did not perceive this long on-going experiment as being wrong. It is partially due to his exposure of this experiment, that other minority groups including the disabled are looking carefully at the medical establishment for bias and prejudice, for neglect and outright denial of fair medical treatment and availability of treatment. Every medical student, public health student, science student, educator, and frankly everyone should read this book. I am deeply concerned that if we don't pay attention to the ethics of all the new science and medical information being found, we will once again allow someone somewhere in our nation the opportunity to use a particular group of people for their own unethical purposes. We cannot afford to turn a 'blind' eye to this happening again. Karen L. Sadler, Science Education, University of Pittsburgh, []


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