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Struggle Over Online Cancer Service Spurs Larger Medical Ethics Debate

PUSHED ASIDE: E. Loren Buhle was a cofounder of OncoLink, but later battled with Penn administrators over its content. University's move to rein in a junior professor raises questions about responsibility for patient-care advice and the appropriate role of experts on the Internet. A recent struggle for control of a popular Internet cancer-information service at the University of Pennsylvania represents more than just an M.D.-vs.-Ph.D. rivalry in an academic department, according to physicians

Franklin Hoke


PUSHED ASIDE: E. Loren Buhle was a cofounder of OncoLink, but later battled with Penn administrators over its content.

University's move to rein in a junior professor raises questions about responsibility for patient-care advice and the appropriate role of experts on the Internet.
A recent struggle for control of a popular Internet cancer-information service at the University of Pennsylvania represents more than just an M.D.-vs.-Ph.D. rivalry in an academic department, according to physicians, researchers, social scientists, and cancer patients and their families. The incident also brings to light vexing ethical issues that promise to become more prominent as the flow of medical information on the Internet increases, they contend.

These larger questions have arisen in the dispute over OncoLink, which posts research and clinical oncology literature, as well as a wide range of patient-support information. Concerns include what responsibility providers have for information they disseminate and what the appropriate...

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