LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Supervisors Order Research Oversight Review at County Hospitals
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors yesterday ordered health officials to investigate oversight procedures for research on human subjects conducted at the county's six public hospitals, the Los Angeles Times reports. The directive comes in the wake of last month's decision by the Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center to suspend clinical trials after a federal review found "dozens of problems" with research procedures. The county's health department already has launched its own investigation, according to Associate Director of Health Services Dr. Donald Thomas. He indicated that most of the public hospitals "are pretty good, but all of them have something they're worried about." Noting that "every research facility in the country has vulnerabilities," Thomas added that the problems do not "necessarily mean bad research is occurring." Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke made yesterday's motion, which also called on the county DHS director to discuss privately with supervisors possible punishments for King/Drew's research violations. Additionally, Burke proposed that the Los Angeles County Research Oversight Committee of county doctors, medical experts and others monitor the hospital's corrective actions and establish uniform research standards for review boards at all county hospitals. She said, "We should have some controls on the type of experiments we have going on within the county."
Meanwhile, Dr. Charles Francis, president of the Drew University Medical School which is associated with King/Drew, said yesterday that the school would form a panel to assess the situation. He added that the school already has made numerous policy changes, including a revamping of its consent forms, and plans to submit a corrective action proposal to the federal government this week (Riccardi, 5/10).