and a look behind the hollow facade of bioethics proclamations
Greatly fanfared government watchdogs
never meant to do their job
The material in this series will open your eyes to how the U.S. government's much touted "never again" protections of the public from medical abuses are just empty rhetoric and fail to work in reality.
The Commissions and agencies alleged to prevent such Tuskeegee-style ill-treatment of unsuspecting patients are indifferent to documented complaints affecting thousands of babies. They are trying to cover up the ethics violations instead, as documented in the correspondence below and in the next series on "Sovereign doctors". The paper trail of this cover-up begins with my certified letter of March 24, 1997, to
Professor Harold T. Shapiro, Ph.D.
Dear Professor Shapiro:
Re: Complaint related to bioethics
When President Clinton, in his speech of October 3, 1995 about the past unethical human radiation experiments, announced his creation of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission which you are now chairing, he said he wanted your Commission to supervise the reviewing of the government's procedures for research on human beings in the light of the Final Report on those experiments, to watch over all such research, and to see to it "that never again do we stray from the basic values of protecting our people and being straight with them"1.
I want therefore to bring to your attention an "already again" case in which medical government officials and government- sponsored members of the medical profession presently violate their most basic duty of protecting the children entrusted to them and refuse to give straight answers.
Since this case involves several patient- deceiving experiments and patient- harming practices, let me begin with an overview of what you will find documented in this letter and in its enclosures.
The officials and physicians about whom I complain are exposing premature babies deliberately and needlessly to irradiation that they know can cause severe harm. They hide the danger from the parents and they willfully ignore Occupational Safety guidelines that protect less vulnerable adults from lesser intensities of such irradiation.
They further deny and misrepresent clinical data in a patient- harming attempt to cover up a series of doctrinal blunders that are embarrassing to their profession; some made up phantom study results, a "medical ethics" committee at the University of Wisconsin openly condoned such a fabrication, and Federal as well as State health officials have stonewalled undeniable and undenied evidence for a cluster of current pediatric routine malpractices that needlessly continue to kill, cripple, and blind many babies.
The latest medical move in that cover-up is a now ongoing experiment on human preemies at four hospitals in Buffalo, Dallas, San Antonio, and Santa Rosa. The experimenters intentionally maximize the harmful irradiation exposure of the babies in the control group to better distinguish the percentage of eye damage among them from that in the allegedly protected study group.
The timing of this patient- harming and parent- deceiving experiment is particularly ironic. The patient enrollment for it began last fall, at about the same time when your Commission charged with the prevention of deceptive practices as in those "never again" human radiation experiments held its first meeting2. The new study is of precisely the same ilk, the only difference is in the wavelength of the damaging radiation.
This study is called LIGHT-ROP. It was funded in March 1995 by the National Eye Institute, and it confirms again Princeton Professor Paul Starr's description of American medicine as a sovereign profession3.
As if the many laws and regulations against such abuses had never been written, as if the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments had never published its Report, and as if President Clinton had never ordered a review of the present procedures, the design of this present study reveals the same contempt for patients' rights, health, and lives as those past aberrations that the President and the public so forcefully condemned.
The LIGHT-ROP researchers are exposing human premature babies deliberately and needlessly to short-wavelength fluorescent light radiation in extra-high intensities and durations, higher than those which they know can damage animal and adult human eyes, and higher than those which the Occupational Safety guidelines allow for industrial workers.
The study authors themselves describe in their grant applications many serious dangers from that irradiation, and also many reasons why the potential harm from it should be even greater to the still developing eyes of premature infants than to the more protected eyes of adults. However, they omit to inform the parents about any of these risks, and they lie on the consent form about the alleged need for the exposure.
Confirming again the epistemological rule of thumb that researchers who deceive their research subjects typically cannot be trusted in other matters either4, the LIGHT-ROP study is also a scientific fraud. It is intentionally designed to mislead, to falsely exonerate the current nursery lighting and those responsible for it.
The babies in the "protected" group will receive their goggles intentionally much too late to do them much good. The predictable outcome from this study will thus be that the light reduction had no or only little effect on the blinding, the nurseries will continue to be lit with light hazardous to the eyes of preemies, and the ongoing epidemic of iatrogenic baby- blinding by retinopathy of prematurity -- the ROP in the study title -- will continue even though it could be stopped the same way it started, with the flick of a switch.
By denying or minimizing the role of the nursery lights in the blinding, the LIGHT-ROP study will further divert attention from yet another embarrassing intensive care nursery malpractice, a routine intervention known to be worse than the disease.
The pediatric response to the ROP epidemic is to withhold life-saving supplementary oxygen from the babies who need it most. This oxygen starving kills many babies and damages the brains of many others, and it does not work at all against the blinding.
The rationing is decades-old and became instantly universal when it was proclaimed, but it was uncritically embraced and has no scientific justification. The entire oxygen withholding doctrine is based on one single, never replicated, Nuremberg-Code violating, parent-deceiving, biased, experience-contradicting, and scientifically fraudulent study from the time and mindset of those infamous Cold War radiation studies.
Pediatricians admit among themselves -- but not to the parents of the preemies they keep at the edge of asphyxiation -- that oxygen withholding has no plausible theoretical basis since no one can control or even measure the oxygen levels at the retina of the babies where alone they count. They also know that their draconian regime has never been shown in any valid study to help against the blinding at all, and they admit that it has killed a great many babies.
They are vague about how many babies that oxygen-starving killed, but so far none of the many officials and physicians I contacted has pointed out a flaw in my estimate that the oxygen withholding policy from this one single study has cost the lives of more Americans than the Vietnam war and continues to take a heavy toll in deaths and brain damage.
The ramifications from the fraud in the LIGHT-ROP are likely to affect even wider circles of people than the about seven per cent of all American babies who are born with low birth weight5 and thus likely to wind up in preemie nurseries. The denial of the danger from the nursery lamps will divert attention from the latent retina- damage that the strong blue-violet component in fluorescent light probably has inflicted and still inflicts on the generations of school children who were and are brought up under them.
Children do not yet have the adults' defenses that filter out these most damaging wavelengths. Exposing children's eyes routinely to fluorescent light during their period of optical vulnerability is likely to add substantially to the life-long accumulation of free radical damage from short-wavelength light in their retinae.
Such gradual accumulation of latent damage is seen as a major risk factor for Senile Macular Degeneration, a rapidly growing epidemic of blinding that has begun to afflict the first cohort of people who grew up under these lamps. They suffer from this macular degeneration in greater numbers than in the past, and at earlier ages.
The false negative result to be expected from the LIGHT-ROP study will confirm the false sense of security with which people accept these never risk-evaluated lamps, and it will further delay the long overdue efforts for preventing this time-bomb mass epidemic.
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