WMU News

Ethics of 'placebo' surgery subject of lecture

March 21, 2004

KALAMAZOO--The possible lack of oversight of surgical procedures will be the topic of a lecture Tuesday, March 30, on the Western Michigan University campus.

Titled "Placebo Surgery: Moral Muddle or Praiseworthy Practice," the presentation, will feature Dr. Jonathan Hopkins, a Kalamazoo neurosurgeon, and Dr. Shirley Bach, WMU professor emerita of philosophy. It begins at 7 p.m. in the Fetzer Center's Putney Lecture Hall.

While there are high professional, ethical and regulatory standards supporting safety and efficacy in the development of new drugs, there is thought to be less scrutiny in the development of new surgical procedures. This has resulted in the introduction and widespread use of some procedures without the level of evaluation of safety that has been accorded the introduction of pharmaceuticals. Such procedures as gastric freezing, routine tonsillectomy and internal-thoracic-artery ligation became standard practice, only to be abandoned later.

More recently, the issue has been raised with regard to some surgical treatments for Parkinson's disease and arthroscopic surgical treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. The speakers will address the ethical issues involved in such placebo surgery.

The presentation is through the Center of the Study of Ethics in Society and is supported by the Michael K. and Shirley Bach Endowment for the Ethics Center.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
269 387-8400