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Ethical Scenarios

Ethical Scenario #1 – What do You Do?

Scenario Setup

You are a first year post-doc working in Dr. Eric McGarrity’s laboratory who is doing some ground-breaking work in immunology. You felt honored to get a position in the laboratory- it was very competitive. The research protocol you are working with involves cats and innovative work.

The Situation

It is early on a Saturday (8 a.m.) when you come in to do your work. Dr. McGarrity walks into the laboratory and says that the cats have to have timed blood draws (10 ml each) at 2 and 4 p.m. and make to sure this happens because all the work for the past 6 months “will be worthless” if it doesn’t happen. You start getting everything ready to perform the blood work on the cats.

The Problem

You are reviewing the protocol and realize that the protocol doesn’t have approval to draw the blood from the cats. You find Dr. McGarrity in his office and explain this and he states that this isn’t a problem; because he has this approval on other protocols, it is a minor oversight at worst. He tells you to just do the blood draws.

What do you do?

As a twist…

You are the attending veterinarian and happen to be in the facility because of another issue and hear your vet techs discussing the blood draws (they found it out somehow). You go up and talk with Dr. McGarrity about this issue. As you review all of his current, IACUC-approved protocols, it is clear that he does not have approval to perform 2 10-ml timed blood draws on cats.

What do you do?

As a twist…

You are the chair of the IACUC and the PI called you to inform you that he needed to take the timed blood samples in order to not waste these animals and 6 months worth of work and “just realized” that he does not have approval to perform this procedure on his cats.

What do you do?

 

Ethical Scenario #2 – Reduction vs. Refinement

Scenario Setup

The regulations state that you must use the 3Rs of Research: Reduction, Refinement and Replacement. What if reduction and refinement are at odds with each other? For example, say you are working with non-human primates. These are highly intelligent creatures, so you feel the need to use the least amount of animals possible in your research project. However, what you are doing to the animals may cause pain and distress. You have two choices: reduce the animal numbers and cause more pain to fewer animals or increase the animal numbers and cause less pain to more animals.

What do you do?