Introduction to Ethics in Medicine

Assessments and therapeutic measures used in medical and therapeutic practice are determined by the values and basic assumptions of one’s view of the human being. Elderly patients in intensive care challenge us in our therapeutic decision-making process, while cancer patients are faced with decisions regarding the often limited effectiveness of the systemic therapy recommended to them. Therapeutically relevant questions are not just concerned with what is “effective” and potentially “feasible”, but with what is beneficial for the patient, i.e. with what he or she considers to be “good”. The three pillars of David Sacket’s evidence-based medicine – external evidence, individual expertise and patient preference – only become complete when a positive patient benefit assessment is included.
Basic concepts of illness and recovery, the patient-doctor relationship and ethical decision-making all depend on the doctor’s view of the human being and are weighted against and determined by it.

Selg P. Nach Auschwitz. Auseinandersetzungen um die Zukunft der Medizin. Arlesheim: Verlag des Ita Wegman Instituts; 2020.

Girke M, Matthiessen PF (Hrsg.) Medizin und Menschenbild. Bad Homburg: VAS-Verlag; 2015.

Selg P. Hippokrates, Ärztliche Ausbildung und Ethik. Arlesheim: Verlag des Ita Wegman Instituts; 2015.

Selg P. Der therapeutische Imperativ Rudolf Steiners – Zur ärztlichen Ethik. Der Merkurstab 2010;63(5):443-447.

Schad W. Medizin-ethische Aspekte. Der Merkurstab 2009;62(3):204-210.



Research news

Yarrow liver compresses in cancer patients and their effect on the autonomous nervous system    
Liver compresses are frequently used in Anthroposophic Medicine for cancer treatment and are believed to have an energizing effect. In a randomized pilot study, the influence of this external application on the autonomous nervous system was now evaluated. For this study, heart rate variability was measured in metastatic cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy and suffering from cancer-related fatigue (CRF). A total of 20 patients (10 per group) were available for analysis. The results show that yarrow liver compresses led to increase sympathetic activity during the day in the intervention group, while increased parasympathetic activity was observed in the control group, which received no external application. The study is published open access: 
https://doi.org/10.1177/15347354221081253
Previously in 2021, Georg Seifert´s research group had demonstrated that liver compresses reduced (CRF) in this clinically relevant range. The current study clarifies the correlation.
https://doi.org/10.1186/s13014-021-01757-x


Further information on Anthroposophic Medicine