UC-IRVINE: Cadaver Scandal Sparks New Legislation
Since firing Christopher Brown as the director of UC-Irvine's Willed Body Program for selling body parts without school knowledge, the university has "essentially dropped efforts" to identify four cadavers still in storage. And despite a shortage of bodies for its medical students, UCI has yet to resume its collection of new cadavers. University Administrator William Parker said, "We'll keep the bodies around, but it will take families coming forward with dental records [to identify them]." The recent cadaver scandal has prompted 19 potential donors to back out of the school's program and has sparked action by state lawmakers. California Assemblyman Ken Maddox (R-Garden Grove) is proposing a bill that would make it a crime to return the wrong ashes, punishable by a year in prison. "This [measure] is meant to close loopholes so you don't have Igors selling body parts out the back door," Larry Lambert, Orange County investigator for the district attorney, said. Maddox became involved with the scandal after hearing a report that the UCI program charged a family $600 for the wrong ashes last summer (Katches/Quach, Orange County Register, 2/26).
"The UCI College of Medicine needs more oversight and better training to avoid further embarrassing scandals," an outside panel recommended Friday. A team of six academic and management experts, called together by Chancellor Ralph Cicerone, said the ideal solution to the UCI situation would be to build a new medical school. The panel also suggested a less costly alternative -- increasing administrative staff and moving some administrators to the medical center 13 miles away. Cicerone said the school will follow the panel's recommendations to hire an associate dean; rewrite ethics policies; offer leadership training to department chairs; and establish a community advisory board. "They didn't find a huge problem with values or behavior, so that was encouraging. It's much harder to deal with a cultural problem than an administrative problem," he said (Heisel, Orange County Register, 2/26).