Research on human subjects is a critical issue that has gotten the attention of most agencies throughout the world. Due to the significance of this research, a code of ethics has been put in place to ensure that research guarantees the right of human subjects. The values followed during study of these subjects is featured in the Nuremberg Code. This is well-known for its set values on any research with human subjects. This code came into existence in Germany after Nazi physicians had subjected the Jews into a medical research which was murderous (Earl, 2009). The American prosecutors had to intervene leading to the creation of this Code which is in use today in the world. The code calls for all the needs to carry out any research on human beings to ensure that they get consent, which is not forced but voluntary from them since it is very essential. The code also requires all engaging in the research to ensure that the research does not unnecessary suffer and even injury to the human subjects and even to their death. This paper seeks to unveil the Nuremburg Code and how it helps in protecting the rights of human subjects in any research.
After the hearing of the Nuremburg Trial which was a case involving doctors who engaged in human experiments in concentration camps, causing sterilization to more than 3 Million people, the judges gave the verdict with the outcome of the trial being ten points which later constituted the Nuremburg Code. The code is a guide to all those that engage themselves in any research that relate to human beings. Nuremburg Code acts as ethical guidelines that ensure that any research carried out on human subjects. Through this code, the society upholds the ethics that need to be followed during any research and especially that involves human subjects.
Outcomes of Nuremburg Trial
The Nuremburg Code upholds that all the human subjects should give consent on any research carried out to them. The codes ensure that the human beings that are researched voluntarily gives the researcher a consent without coercion or being forced to do so. According to Mduluza (2006), this voluntary consent is very essential for all researchers, failure to which no research which involves human subjects could be allowed. This protection of human research ensures that all human beings are aware of the research undertaken to them and thus are conversant with any implication that come along with the research. In some instances, the research on human subjects have caused mental and suffering to them and thus the need to ensure that they give their consent for the research. To ensure humans have an enlightened decision when consenting on the research, great measures need to be put in place with the subjects being enlightened about the research.
In addition, the Nuremburg Trial came up with another principle of beneficence, of the research towards the human beings where the research is carried out. The Nuremburg Code calls for research carried benefit society and the human race. In addition, the exploration done should ensure that all participants profits from the research. It is ethical to ensure that any research carried out on human subjects benefits them. All the research that is carried on human subjects should ensure that it is good for them and no other method could be used to come up with a projected solution. This helps in avoiding and reducing cases of human exploitation where some researchers would engage in a research that will not help or improve the lives of the human subjects in any way.
Another outcome of the Nuremburg Trial is that the researchers should care about the condition of the human subject at all times. The Nuremburg Code requires the researcher to terminate the research if at all the continuation of the research will cause harm and suffering to the human subject. In addition to this, the researcher is required to be qualified in carrying out the research and in case completion of the research causes suffering to the human subjects, the research must be terminated. The experiment carried out on the human subjects can bring about suffering to them, cause death, lead to disability or injury and thus the need for the researcher to ensure that the human subject health and mental condition comes before the importance of the research.
Institutional Review Board (IRB)
As a way of protecting human subjects from getting exploited during research, Institutional Review Board was instituted so as to help the researchers when carrying out their research on human subjects. According to Emanuel (2008), the main role of the IRB is to ensure that any research undertaken with human subjects is appropriate and they achieve this through the review and approval the research. Any research taken on human beings is scrutinized by IRB so as to ascertain whether it is ethical and protects the rights of the human subjects. This board ensures that any research is ethical and thus permits the researcher to undertake it. In addition, Institutional Review Board has the mandate to approve or disapprove any research aimed at human subject and in some cases, the board request the researcher to do some modifications in the research so as to acquire approval (Stark, 2012). All this is done so as to ensure that all the research that is done is in accordance with welfare of human beings and that the research respects the rights of human being.
The main purpose of Institutional Review Board is to guarantee that the rights of human subjects in any given research are maintained and respected and that no research that is undertaken which infringes the rights of those involved in the research (Emanuel, 2008). Through this board, the rights of human subjects are held and maintained and any researcher who seeks to undertake research must discloses and prove to the board that the person’s consent to the research. In addition, the board also ensures that the researcher complies with all the set guidelines and regulations of any research involving human subjects.
In my case as a researcher, I would not use live subjects in a research if human rights were not protected. First of all, unethical to use live subjects in any study. Any research undertaken in human beings is in most cases aimed at improving lives and therefore it may be important to carry the research. However, human subjects are risky to carry out a research in them since this may result to suffering, harm or even death of the human subject and no research is aimed at loss of life. This thus becomes the main reason why it would be hard to engage in a research involving human subjects. Moreover, it is immoral to carry out a research on human subjects without their consent. This is not good and is unethical in that it is an infringement of the private life of human being which may lead to both mental and physical suffering and thus not good at all. Since human beings are an autonomous agent, it is therefore important to allow them to decide whether a research should be done on them.
Protecting human subjects during research
There are several moral principles of protection of human subjects and their rights. Among the principles is leaving the human subjects to give permission to any research carried on them. To this principle, all human beings must be given a chance to decide and give a consent on the continuation of any kind of research to be done on them. All human subjects must voluntarily without being coerced or forced agree to any research since all human beings are autonomous subject. This means that the subject in some cases may decline from having any research done to them and thus the researcher has no permission to continue with the research regardless of the importance or the urgency of the research.
Also, the researcher is obliged to safeguard the human subject by ensuring that the experiment carried out does not cause any suffering to the human subject. This principle calls for all the researchers being keen on their research and ensure that their research does not cause any suffering either mental or physical. Instead, the researcher is required to ensure that they get most from the research with the benefits outnumbering the demerits. It is a responsibility of all the researchers to ensure that they minimize the harms that may come along with their research.
In conclusion, research on human subjects is a critical factor and thus all that engage in this kind of research needs to be keen and committed to respecting the rights of human beings. This kind of research calls for all to ensure that the subject voluntarily consent to the research and not only so, they have the right to terminate any research on them if in any case the research causes them physical or mental harm. These kind of research should also ensure that the integrity of human subjects is safeguarded.
Stark, L. J. M. (2012). Behind closed doors: IRBs and the making of ethical research. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Emanuel, E. J. (2008). The Oxford textbook of clinical research ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Earl, H. (2009). The Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen trial, 1945-1958: Atrocity, law, and history. New York, N.Y. [etc.: Cambridge University Press.
Mduluza, T. (2006). A gateway to biomedical research in Africa. New York: Nova Science Publishers.