The above link, once visited, will perhaps, give you shivers, like it did, me! I am already wrestling with an internal debate with myself, this heated personal debate is perhaps tougher than that which is ensuing between Hilary and Donald currently. For some time now, I have had to acknowledge the fact that my night vision is not the best and have been contemplating the idea of having a simple laser surgery done or not. I have panic attacks that wake me up at night with the fear that a little thing might go wrong during the operation that can cause permanent blindness! It will suffice to say that these panic attacks have become more frequent recently after hearing that my friend’s perfectly healthy dad, who went into the operating room for an apparently simple and basic operation, has subsequently suffered two cardiac attacks with the second leading to an anoxic brain injury due to the negligence of a doctor!
As if knowledge of accidents occurring in the medical field are not enough to scare the living daylights out of me, I chanced upon this case of a researcher, again in the medical field, that falsified data and results! I am forced to ask if this researcher understood the code of ethics in the medical field. I got distracted a bit, just because we had been asked in class to find out about the code of ethics in our disciplines just the day before today. So, I went to look up the code of ethics for the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) and lo and behold, the first code states that ‘Members and Certificants shall act in the best interest of research participants and society’. The subsequent ethical codes all center on the issue of integrity and protection of the society. How then can a researcher in this same field be found to not mistakenly, but intentionally violate such life threatening protocols?
In the above case, the researcher, Anil Potti, is found guilty of falsifying most of her facts. She claimed that she used 33 patients, 6 of whom responded positively to a dasatinib treatment. I believe that just like every research, and even more so, in medical research, a substantial sample size is required, of which the 33 she stated, was deemed reasonable. It was however noted that the treatment was only given to 4 patients, none of whom responded! That cannot be an oversight? Or can it still be unintentional if the people she claimed to have responded positively to the treatment are even more than the people she actually treated? I find this very frightening, considering the fact that these are human lives that are at stake! This does not boil down to just unprofessionalism or unethical, but plain wickedness!
The researcher did not end at just falsifying her sample size but is also found guilty of altering data sets to improve the accuracy of predictors for response to treatments. It does not get more diabolical than this! The case goes on to describe her acts in detail and I believe it gets more treacherous than what I have just explained, because my non-medical anti-hospital mind, cannot wrap my head around the technicalities of the details. I have attached the link for you to indulge if you please. Just continue to read my mumblings….
I want to finish off by stating the fact that this research was conducted in an Ivy League school, Duke University…. My little Ghana mind only understands the fact that top quality research is done in such Ivy League schools, so how come this happened right under their noses? It brings to mind how cautious we all have to be about the outcome of research. One day, we here about a cancer research that was conducted in a laboratory that is located in the middle of nowhere, and yet we accept the results and allow ourselves to get frightened (at this point, I am talking to myself…). The next day, we hear about research proving the efficacy of a herb we did not know of, and stuff our bodies with these herbs (my mother is stuffing herself with moringa leaves three times a day, she has one to drink, some to chew, some to take her bath with and some that she can apply on her skin).
Apart from this act being highly unethical and reminding people in academia to be professional about research, it is a wakeup call for all and sundry to be very careful about health reports that we accept. I will just end that as much as this finding eases my anxious mind about the life threatening health articles posted online (they are not true, hurray!!!), it makes me wary of medical procedures and question what the doctor actually means when he or she says a surgical operation has a 10% complication rate based on research conducted……