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Nuremberg Code

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The Nuremberg Code was introduced in August 1947, after the Nuremberg trials. In these trials, Nazi doctors were convicted of the crimes committed during human experiments on concentration camp prisoners. It attempted to give clear rules about what was legal and what was not when conducting human experiments.

The code consists of ten points. The first and most important is that anyone participating in an experiment must give informed consent. This means nobody can be forced to participate in human experiments. All participants must understand the potential risks.

The code also gives rules for running the experiments. For example, participants can leave the experiment if they want. Doctors must stop the experiment if they realise it can harm the patient. Also, no experiment can be made where the risks outweigh the benefits that can be had from it.

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Bibliography

G J Annas and M A Grodin, The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code: human rights in human experimentation (OUP, 1992)

H H Freyhofer, The Nuremberg medical trial: the holocaust and the origin of the Nuremberg medical code (New York: Lang, 2005)

P J Weindling, Nazi medicine and the Nuremberg trials (New York: Houndmills, 2004)

J Hazelgrove, ‘The Old Faith and the New Science: The Nuremberg Code and Human Experimentation Ethics in Britain, 1946–73’, Social History of Medicine, 15/1 (2002), pp 109-135

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