What Will Medicine Consider Unethical in 100 Years?

What we as humans perceive as “right” and “wrong” have changed dramatically over the years in terms of medicine. For example, lobotomies, operations in which doctors break connections in patients’ brains to treat conditions such as depression. At the height of lobotomy practice in the 1940s, prior to advancements in mental health care, this ice-pick-through-the-eye-socket procedure appeared to be sound. Today, we might be shocked that these procedures were considered OK. That procedure won a Noble prize in 1949. So how will medical ethics be different in 100 years?

“Because of medical ethics, you can have a reasonable expectation that your personal information will be kept private, your clinical providers won’t be impaired, and your wishes for care while incapacitated will be respected.” In 100 years, common practices today will shock our descendants. For example, in the future they may be using robots for testing and they may think that using humans for drug tests is absurd.

Also, will robotic surgery completely take over? Will doctors even be present for surgeries in 100 years? Our descendants might think it is preposterous that humans actually performed serious surgeries on other humans!

These ideas may seem ridiculous and comical to us today, but for sure the Noble Prize selection team from 1949 never thought we would be debating the ethics of lobotomies today.

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