The Associated Press’ Mike Stobbe found more than 40 instances of doctors making patients sick for the sake of experimentation throughout U.S. history. Last fall’s government apology for doctors infecting Guatemala prisoners with syphilis 65 years ago sparked the review.
Stobbe, a member of AHCJ and a past board member, found healthy people were infected with malaria, Asian flu, gonorrhea, hepatitis and even a deadly stomach bug for the sake of broadening knowledge. Doctors violated the fundamental medical principle to “first do no harm.” Stobbe points out:
Attitudes about medical research were different then. Infectious diseases killed many more people years ago, and doctors worked urgently to invent and test cures. Many prominent researchers felt it was legitimate to experiment on people who did not have full rights in society – people like prisoners, mental patients, poor blacks. It was an attitude in some ways similar to that of Nazi doctors experimenting on Jews.
Disturbingly, some of these stories were never covered in the media.