August 20, 1947: Judgment at Nuremberg

Nazi Doctors & Nuremberg Code_Annas & GrodinAugust 20, 1947: Judgment at Nuremberg: 16 out of 23 doctors were found guilty of crimes against humanity. The Nuremberg verdict also set forth the parameters of “Permissible Medical Experiments” known as the Nuremberg Code.

The Nuremberg Code laid the foundation for biomedical ethics mandating that medical experiments conducted on human beings must conform to well-defined humane, ethical standards; foremost is immutable standard:

The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential;
The information sought is “unprocurable by other methods or means of study;
The anticipated results will justify the performance of the experiment;
The experiment is designed “to avoid all unnecessary physical and mental suffering or injury;”
Risks to subjects be minimized to protect against “even remote possibilities of injury, disability or death.

The Nuremberg Code makes clear that ethical standards protecting individual human rights supersede arguments invoking the “greater good of society.”