A congressional hearing was held on October 16, 2019, to examine the allegations by two whistleblowers — Martina Buck, Ph.D., a UCSD and VA research scientist and her husband, Mario Chojkier, M.D., UCSD professor of medicine and a liver specialist at the VA Medical Center — that veterans at the San Diego VA hospital were subjected to dangerous liver biopsy research without their informed consent.
The VA claimed that it had investigated the claims in 2017 and found “no substantial danger to public health” had occurred.
The issue was harm caused to individual veterans. The disclaimer of no danger to “public health” is not the issue. Therein lies one of the rabbit escape holes that officials use to evade responsibility. The victims of medical ethics violations are first, and foremost, individual human beings.
The research, led in part by Dr. Samuel Ho from at least 2014 to 2016, involved collecting liver tissue, blood, stool and urine samples from patients suffering from alcoholism and liver disease to better understand their condition.
An internal report from the San Diego VA obtained by inewsource in February confirmed extra liver samples had been taken from the veterans during biopsies that were not necessary for their clinical care — they were only taken for research purposes. The patients were not informed that this increased the risk of severe complications, including internal bleeding.
When the case was reviewed by an independent agency called the Office of Special Counsel, it concluded the investigation was “unreasonable” and urged the VA to take a “truly critical look” at what happened in San Diego.
When the VA was forced to re-investigate, the whistleblowers’ claims were confirmed: “there was egregious research misconduct.” The VA submitted a second report to the independent special counsel’s office, which is reviewing it. The report has not been made public yet.
The Veterans Affairs department has an odious record of ethical violations in medical research at its VA hospitals. [CNN. The VA’s Troubled History, 2014]
Since 2014, ethical violations have gone mostly unreported except by inewsource, one of the few media sources that regularly report about unethical human experiments in the San Diego vicinity. However, as Congressman Scot Peters of San Diego stated, “This story presents a case that could Click here to search the inewsource database of federal whistleblower complaints within the executive branch.have consequences in other settings, especially for VA medical Centers that conduct research on site.”
The Congressional hearing was a result of inewsource reporting. Read the complete report https://inewsource.org/2019/10/16/congress-va-veterans-hearing-san-diego-study/