A Prescription for Ethical Learning


  • Emily A. Largent,

  • Franklin G. Miller,

  • Steven Joffe

  • Emily A. Largent, Franklin G. Miller, and Steven Joffe, “A Prescription for Ethical Learning,” Ethical Oversight of Learning Health Care Systems


We argued last year in this journal that extensive integration of research and care is a worthy goal of health system design, and we second the call from Ruth Faden and colleagues to move toward learning health care systems. As they recognize, learning health care systems demand the coordination of research and medical ethics—two sets of normative commitments that have long been considered distinct. In offering a novel ethics framework for such systems, Faden et al. advance the scholarly debate about how best to do this and challenge us to think more deeply about its practical implications. However, we believe that at least three issues they raise require additional attention. First, the research-care distinction has more normative bite than they are willing to concede. Second, the role for independent oversight requires clarification. Finally, they neglect the concept of stewardship as a guiding obligation of learning health care systems.