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The medical ethics trap behind retinopathy of prematurity and much cerebral palsy:

Table of contents with summaries

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1     2     3    4     5   of this series

3. The clumsy medical stonewall
and its crushing cost to preemies

This Section lists and summarizes a sampling of reactions from physicians and medical officials to my documentation of the light hazard and nursery safety violation, and my replies.  Many of the letters themselves are not yet posted, but if you are interested in some of the  documents described please e-mail us

3.1. The Chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Fetus and Newborn willfully ignores the danger from excess light to preemies and denies on TV some of his own published writings where he had stated that preemies are very sensitive to light, and that light has many negative effects on them.

 

Reply from Dr. Jean D. Lockhard, Director, Department of Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, dated November 13, 1987, acknowledging receipt of my material on ROP and fluorescent light, and promising its transmission to the Chairman of the Committee on Fetus and Newborn.

 

Transcript of my discussion with Dr. Gerald B. Merenstein, then Chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Fetus and Newborn, on the "Good Morning America" TV news show of August 30, 1989. 

 

As in several subsequent TV programs about ROP and nursery lighting, he avoids addressing any of the abundant documentation against the eye safety violation his Committee recommends. His justification for the continued gross overdose of light is that "Even something as simple as keeping the lights very low may have an adverse effect that we are not aware of."

 

Excerpts from "Handbook of Neonatal Intensive Care" by Gerald B. Merenstein, M.D., and Sandra L. Gardner, R.N., published also in 1989, where this same Dr. Merenstein and his co-author state that even the fetus "recoils from a bright light shone at the mother's abdomen" and warns that "preemies are very sensitive to light. (...) there is abundant animal, child, and adult research documenting negative biochemical and physical effects [from nursery-type lighting]. (...) The first goal in visual intervention is to assess the current level of light and decrease it wherever possible."

 

3.2. A sampling of other non-replies

Letter from David F. Weeks, President, Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc., dated October 6, 1987.   Despite his promise to have his scientific advisors review my safety alert on how to prevent many cases of blindness, I received no further reaction from anyone in his organization.

 

My letter to Kirk Johnson, Esq., General Counsel for the American Medical Association, alerting him on October 27, 1987, to the safety violation and its consequences for premature babies. I received no reply.

 

My letter to John C. Villforth, Director, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, alerting him to the safety violation on August 1, 1988. I received no reply.

 

Letter from Dr. T. Berry Brazelton dated September 26, 1988. He agrees with my warning against bright light but does nothing to speak out against its role in the blinding.

 

My letter to Marian Wright Edelman, President, The Children's Defense Fund, dated January 23, 1993, reminding her that her Fund had done nothing to defend children against the recently exposed scandalous medical vivisection. I ask her to do better this time and to defend children against her country's major cause of childhood blinding.

 

Mrs. Edelman's reply of February 8, 1993, promising careful review of my material. I received no other reaction from her  organization.

 

My letter to Dr. Arthur L. Caplan, Director, Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania, dated May 22, 1994, bringing to his attention the cluster of medical atrocities against premature babies described in this book.

 

I challenge him to live up to his media image as ethics ace and to prove by speaking out against these ethics violations that medical ethics is not just the propaganda that medical anthropologists say it is.

 

Reply from Dr. Caplan, dated May 27, 1994, stating that he looked forward to reading the material he had received from me, and "I fear that many of the treatments used in neonatology have not been subjected to rigorous scientific assessment and that much more attention must be paid to the ethics of experiments in this area.".

 

I received no further reaction from this ethics expert and must take his silence and inaction about the atrocities brought to his attention as an admission that his bioethics is indeed nothing but Orwellian-named medical propaganda.

 

3.3.1. An ophthalmologist uses distorted logic and fantasy factoids to defend the status quo; then he fabricates a study to assert that bright light may benefit preemies.

 

Letter from Burton J. Kushner, M.D., Professor of Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus, University of Wisconsin, Madison, dated May 6, 1993, to Mrs. Margie Watson, Founder of Prevent Blindness in Premature Babies, an advocacy and support group in Madison, who had asked him to comment on my IATROGENICS article.

 

Dr. Kushner does not address the documentation of the safety violation. However, he misrepresents and re-invents the clinical literature in his attempts to make light appear harmless.

 

My reply to Dr. Kushner, May 27, 1993.

I demonstrate that many of his assertions are untenable and illogical, and I challenge him to document them. Some highlights:

  • Dr. Kushner's claim to be objective and unbiased

  • A failure to learn from an early medical light damage experiment

  • Ancient Roman medical understanding and ethics were more advanced than the positions Dr. Kushner defends.

  • Modern medical underreporting of adverse outcomes

  • A law forbids food additives that cause cancer in any test animals, but Dr. Kushner defends exposure of unprotected preemies to irradiation that quickly blinds many test animals.

  • An update of the retinal irradiance calculation from pages 5 to 7 for a slightly smaller reported pupil diameter

  • The newly published aphake photic hazard function matches the unprotected preemie eye better than the blue-light hazard function; it predicts greater danger.

  • Dr. Kushner's casual math error fits in with others in medical writings on ROP.

  • The safety of oxygen supplementation in the absence of light damage to the eye, and the futility of withholding this life-saver from preemies who need it.

  • Dr. Kushner praised a 1987 study that again killed babies by rationing their oxygen more severely.  He did not denounce that rationing although there was only one chance in 16 that the extra deaths were not associated with lack of oxygen.

  • The American Medical Association insists that practitioners who can not back up their statements with scientific data are dangerous quacks and members of unscientific cults; I requested that Dr. Kushner back up his statements. He did not reply but then repeated publicly his irresponsible defense of preemie irradiating.

  • List of references and additional comments for this letter to Dr. Kushner

Dr. Kushner's letter to the Wisconsin State Journal, published October 22, 1993, in which he asserts his awareness of a study that allegedly yielded a much higher incidence of ROP among babies exposed to decreased light levels. He further states that there are "substantial theoretical reasons" why higher light levels may be beneficial for babies who still belong in the womb.

 

My letter to Dr. Kushner, November 8, 1993, asking him to document his assertions

 

Letter from Dr. Kushner's attorney, dated November 29, 1993, advising me that Dr. Kushner will not be opening any more mail from me. 

 

3.3.2 .A medical ethics committe condones fabricating data to hide a danger to patients.

 

My letter to Chancellor David Ward, University of Wisconsin, Madison, dated December 8, 1993, filing a complaint against Dr. Kushner for the scientific misconduct of inventing a study result, and for trying to dissimulate a documented hazard to patients.

 

Letter from Chancellor Ward, January 10, 1994, promising that an inquiry committee will be appointed by the Dean of the Medical School that will review my allegations and the facts.

 

My letter to Chancellor Ward, March 24, 1994, to inquire why I had received no further response to my easily verified complaint.

 

Letter from Chancellor Ward of May 3, 1994, stating that the university's procedures for misconduct in scholarly research do not apply to what Dr. Kushner did.

 

Letter from Chancellor Ward of August 1, 1994, informing me that the medical ethics panel had found no evidence of misconduct on Dr. Kushner's part.

 

Continue to the next page in this annotated table of contents.

 

 
 

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