and a documentation of patient-harming frauds in medical research
Rigged studies in preemie treatment
and their continuing cover-up
The material in this series of web pages describes and documents
You will also find here a summary of the medical cover-up for these self- serving frauds that stain the name of science, and links to the relevant parts of the book which give further details.
I wrote this account in response to a particularly unctuous article in a medical journal about the medical profession's need to learn from its errors. That article was authored by a physician who had found much fault with the earliest attempts to study retinopathy of prematurity but willfully ignored the much greater errors and outright frauds which marred the later alleged solution.
Here is the reply I sent on January 7, 1998, to
Professor Alvan R. Feinstein, at the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology,
I posted my comments therefore here as an open letter to him and to his medical colleagues, and also to the institutions that condone the patient- harming behavior and hypocrisy exposed below:
Dear Professor Feinstein:
I read with great interest your two essays in the current issue of Perspectives in Biology and Medicine about what you dubbed the Santayana Syndrome1 -- the persistent failure of the medical profession to learn from its long history of wrong ideas and patient-harming errors. Please accept my congratulations for your courage in publishing this critique of some flagrant flaws in the medical doctrine and of the unsound epistemological basis for many now widely accepted medical practices.
You say that the Santayana Syndrome occurs when past errors are repeated because they were inadequately identified, taught, or learned, and you present as one of your prime exhibits what you call on page 74 "perhaps the most obvious iatrogenic harm of the 20th century", the baby-blinding epidemic of retrolental fibroplasia.
I want therefore to bring to your attention that this still continuing epidemic, now known as retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), is a far more damaging manifestation of that Santayana Syndrome than even you have so far identified: the medical failure to face up to this problem continues to blind, maim, and even kill up to several thousand premature babies each year, in this country and around the world.
When Dr. Jacobson and you performed your "intellectual autopsy" of the first decade of errors in the medical approach to this epidemic2, you limited your analysis unfortunately to the initial blunders and then simply accepted the official medical doctrine that the blinding had been due to high-dose oxygen therapy. Had you continued your research to include the reasons for that doctrine, you would not have said, as you do on page 74 of your Santayana article, that the toxic effects of oxygen "were unequivocally demonstrated in a suitable randomized trial".
Part 1. The alleged role of oxygen
Your limited analysis was like an archaeological test trench that stops short of the most vital clue to the site by a mere few inches. Had you dug just a little farther, you would have discovered that said oxygen trial3 was unequivocally biased instead and crucially misleading, a worse ethics violation than even the infamous medical Human Radiation Experiments which recently revealed the patient-abusing medical attitudes of that time, and that it was moreover a scientific fraud, rigged to produce an intentionally false and still patient-harming result.
In strata right next to your trench that are now nearly half a century old, you would have found a still smoking gun: prominently published evidence that the at least outwardly unanimous group of leading physicians who planned and executed this trial included advocates of ruthless Nazi-style eugenics who openly proposed to eliminate the babies at risk as "defective persons of which this world has a sufficient quantity already".
Adding this piece of evidence makes the rest of the puzzle fall together, so you would have recognized that this old gun is still shooting and killing: the doctrine instituted by that trial, the still current practice of oxygen rationing for premature babies desperately in need of this breathing help, is in fact the survival of an unacknowledged euthanasia program.
This program is so well disguised and thus remains so unchallenged that it was and still is able to continue far longer than its infamous forerunner and model in Germany, and to accumulate even more victims.
Once you study the full evidence available about that trial, you will find it hard to avoid the conclusion that these 1950s physicians planned their oxygen withholding trial as a cynical means to reduce the number of blind children by not allowing those most at risk to survive.
You will see that the American doctors who created this elimination program against the "defectives" in their nurseries did so along the lines of the very similar program which their German colleagues had initiated and executed not long before against the "defectives" of all ages in their institutions.
The only differences, besides the lower ages and higher numbers of the victims here, were that the American eugenics- advocating doctors concealed their systematic killing much better than their German counterparts, and that instead of killing the "defectives" with life-destroying poison gas they killed them by Tuskeegee- style withholding of the known remedy, the indispensable life- saving gas.
If you had extended your investigation to then cover the hidden mass infanticide that nursery doctors in America and around the world performed in the wake of that bogus study, most of them unknowingly, you would have been shocked how easily this so fraudulently created oxygen rationing doctrine mislead even those many physicians who would never have knowingly agreed to asphyxiate babies just to prevent them from growing up blind.
You would then probably have commented in your Santayana papers on how this pathological gullibility of doctors "rendered immune [to skeptical thinking] by modern medical education" (to use some of your words from page 82) took and still takes a high death toll among the targeted babies, and how this "failure to anticipate the adverse effects of well-intentioned actions" (your page 73) now prevents said doctors from addressing the real and abundantly documented iatrogenic cause for the blinding.
I also trust that you would have been appalled by the dishonest denial and deliberate falsification of data (of the type that you rightly brand on page 54 as "shameful" and "egregious exceptions to scientific behavior") with which some leading physicians and highly placed medical officials tried and are presently trying to cover up this still ongoing crime, as described farther below.
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