The Tuskegee experiment that took place in America over a period of four decades was an ethical catastrophe. The movie, “Miss Evers’ Boys”, captures the emotional and physical effects of the experiment on the participants, most of who succumbed to the disease. The experiment was a violation of most, if not all, of the ethical principles in nursing. This essay provides a brief summary and a reflection of the movie and addresses the happenings using the ethical framework of beneficence.
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In this movie, the federal government investigated the effects of syphilis on untreated black participants. Placebos were provided to the black participants while their white counterparts got the right treatment. In the end, most of the black participants succumbed to the effects of the disease while the authorities documented the progression of this disease. It is only after a Senate investigation four decades later that the experiment stops.
The ethical principle of beneficence requires that health care providers do good to their patients (Guido, 2010). In the Tuskegee experiment on which the movie is based, clinicians and nurses harm the participants causing death for most of them. The movie explores the suffering of individuals as seen through Evers’ eyes. Miss Evers and the rest of the clinicians in the experiment had a chance to offer treatment to the infected participants (Guido, 2010). However, they chose not to provide them with this cure, instead leaving them to die. Their decisions had moral ramifications and affected the well-being of her ‘boys’.
In conclusion, the expected role of healthcare professionals is to maintain ethical vigilance in such situations. Additionally, those in leadership roles should ensure that ethical standards are followed and respected. Tough measures should be in place to ensure that offenders are prosecuted.
Guido, G. (2010). Legal and ethical issues in nursing (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.