Bioethics Blogs

BIOETHICS TV 10/27 – Modern miracles, body hacking, and sex trafficking

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Pure Genius (Seasons 1, Episode 1)

This new TV show might be the ethicists worst nightmare. The show opens with Dr. Mulroney at a hearing where he admits to giving a patient an unapproved FDA drug to a patient who died. He is dismissed. The point of this opening scene is to present medicine as too conservative, too stodgy, and not willing to take risks for innovation.

The second presents a case takes in an Oakland, CA hospital where a 15-year-old girls is unresponsive in a “coma” for some unknown reason. A team of people wearing brown jackets shows up to transfer the patient to a new hospital, Bunker Hill. The parents have to sign a transparent touch screen and all treatment will be free. This scene is an obvious reference to the Jahi McMath case.

The premise of this show is that James Bell, a Silicon Valley billionaire, brings together innovative physicians with the most cutting edge technology that can be envisioned in a high-tech hospital. Bell’s vision is to cut out the bureaucracy—apparently federal law and regulation do not apply in this world. At the end of the episode, the viewer learns that Bell has Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker syndrome (GSS)—a rare neurodegenerative genetic disorder that that will begin to affect him in a few years. He built the hospital to find a cure for himself and may help a few people along the way.

Among the great leaps—a patient table with self-administered finger-stick to allow for more frequent monitoring. A full wall screen displays all of a patient’s vitals and works as a giant iPad.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.