Neurosurgeons from the University of California at Davis have resigned their positions following the deliberate infection of three patients with a bowel bacteria they hoped would save the students' lives.
Following an investigation, officials at UC Davis determined that the physicians' actions violated the school's code of conduct – a code of which the two, Dr. J. Paul Muizelaar and Dr. Rudolph J. Schrot, disagreed. Nonetheless, they felt fighting it was pointless. Said Schrot:
I lost confidence, if you will, in the ability of the university administration to fairly handle it.
The physicians had the permission of the three patients to try the injections, but university officials concluded they failed to get the required prior approval from either the school or the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for such an experimental treatment that had not been tested on animals.
The three patients had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, and the doctors gained the permission of the patients to inject a live bowel bacteria into them in the hopes that it would stimulate their immune systems to fight the cancer and prolong their lives.
A flawed experiment
The treatment was not successful, as one patient died a month after infection, a second died two weeks after infection (of sepsis, which initiated the investigation), while the third lived for over a year.
According to the university, Muizelaar and Schrot made deliberate moves to get around not only school policy but also federal regulatory issues.
Said Ralph J. Hexter, provost and executive vice chancellor of UC Davis:
Investigators I appointed heard from some witnesses that there is perception that compliance with university policies and external regulatory requirements is not a universally held value.
The experiment not only forced the resignation of Muizelaar, who had headed the university's neurosurgery department, and Schrot, but also Dr. Claire Pomeroy, dean of the university's School of Medicine.
The doctors remain defiant, saying they were only trying to offer their patients a last shot at survival.
Source: Sacramento Bee
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