The film Miss Evers’ Boys is based on a medical experiment carried out on human subjects. The story focuses on Tuskegee study, which involved the assessment of syphilis among male patients. In this paper, the author will analyze various ethical issues in the film in the context of beneficence.
Beneficence in Miss Evers’ Boys
The project was sponsored by the US government. It sought to determine the effects of syphilis among the black male population (Hermann, 2001). The results were to be compared with findings made on a similar study carried out on Caucasian men in Oslo between 1891 and 1910. The issue of beneficence is evident in the film (Benedetti & Fishburne, 1997). Initially, the project purported to offer free treatment to the patients. The intention created an impression of a ‘benevolent’ gesture from the authorities. Miss Evers admits that the subjects were not told of the true nature of the project due to their lack of education (Benedetti & Fishburne, 1997). The argument is that the subjects may have opted out of the program due to fear.
The Tuskegee project involved 600 black participants (Hermann, 2001). Given the vulnerability of the patients, the researchers should have provided them with support. Instead, the scholars manipulated them to attain the desired objectives (Houser, 2015). The unethical nature of the project is made apparent by the misled involvement of the participants (Benedetti & Fishburne, 1997).
Throughout her participation in the project, Evers consoles herself that the failure to inform the men about the research is justified. According to Hermann (2001), the project was terminated in 1972. It was halted after the media exposed it to the public.
Failure to monitor and regulate the actions of practitioners and those in power makes it hard to address bioethical problems. The US Nurses Ethical Pledge prohibits willful use of harmful medications (Institute of Medicine, 2010). Practitioners are expected to put in place measures aimed at addressing unethical behaviors. Nurses should devote themselves to the welfare of patients committed to their care. Stakeholders (including Miss Evers, the doctors, and the authorities) violated these ethical codes of conduct. Professional ethics should ensure that professionals and other parties are held accountable for their actions. Contemporary ethical frameworks should support discretionary actions intended to protect patients from harm.
Benedetti, R., & Fishburne, L. (Executive Producers). (1997). Miss Evers’ Boys. Georgia, USA: Home Box Office.
Hermann, D. (2001). Lessons taught by Miss Evers’ Boys: The inadequacy of benevolence and the need for legal protection of human subjects in medical research. Journal of Law and Health, 15(147), 147-163.
Houser, J. (2015). Nursing research: Reading, using, and creating evidence (3rd ed.). Boston: Jones & Bartlett.
Institute of Medicine. (2010). The future of nursing: Leading the change, advancing health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.