Nurses' involvement in the development of the Nuremberg Code for Research Ethics

Shields, Linda, and Benedict, Susan (2013) Nurses' involvement in the development of the Nuremberg Code for Research Ethics. Annals of the Australasian College of Tropical Medicine, 14 (1). pp. 15-16.

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Background/Aims: The Nuremberg Code for Research Ethics was developed after the egregious crimes committed by health personnel in experiments in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. While doctors' roles in these crimes have been widely studied, nurses have been ignored. However, they were equally culpable. This study aims to examine the role of nurses at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp.

Methods: Using primary and secondary sources, including survivor testimonies, the mention of nurses and descriptions of their involvement were found.

Results: Situated close to one of the main hospitals in Germany, Ravensbrück prisoners were used as subjects for medical experiments. They had no choice, and were killed if they refused; 74 women were used in experiments of surgical techniques such as bone and nerve transplants, and drugs, in particular sulphonamides. Five women were executed following the experiments, and five died. However, many lived and gave testimony at the Nuremberg Doctors Trials. As a direct result of the trials, the Nuremberg Code for Research Ethics was developed. Many more doctors than nurses were tried, but the experiments occurred in the camp hospital, where nurses constituted the major proportion of the workforce.

Conclusion: This paper explains the experiments, how nurses were involved, and the subsequent development of the Nuremberg Code with its emphasis on informed consent. Nurses today need an understanding of how nurses were drawn into the abrogation of their code of ethics.

Item ID: 30880
Item Type: Article (Abstract)
ISSN: 1448-4706
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2014 02:51
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1110 Nursing > 111099 Nursing not elsewhere classified @ 50%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210307 European History (excl British, Classical Greek and Roman) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920210 Nursing @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology @ 50%
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