UC-IRVINE: Sued for Violating Rights of Alzheimer’s Patients
According to a state Department of Health Services investigation, University of California-Irvine researchers used Alzheimer's patients as test subjects in an infectious disease study without the consent of either the patients or their families, the Orange County Register reports. An elder-abuse suit filed Wednesday alleges that UCI doctors and staff at the John Douglas French Center, a Los Alamitos nursing home and Alzheimer's-care facility, used cotton swabs to collect samples from patients' nasal and rectal regions at least three times last year to "ensure they were not carrying antibiotic-resistant infection." The lawsuit claims that testing patients without consent is a violation of patients' rights. Richard Ciolek, the son of 86-year-old Julia Ciolek, whose family filed the suit, said, "I'm outraged that someone would do anything with someone who is incapable of giving consent." But Dr. Lauri Thrupp, chief of infection control at the university, said that the procedure met UCI's requirements for "common public health tests" and was done to ensure that patients did not transmit potentially fatal bacteria. But University of Pennsylvania ethicist Arthur Caplan said that "even if the doctors acted legally, they should have gotten consent," adding, "The bedrock moral principle is no touching of another person without their permission" (Haas/Saar, 6/15). The lawsuit continues UCI's ongoing scandals, which have included wrongly billing "dying cancer patients" (CHL, 7/99), allegations of the sale of body parts for profit and the transplant of stolen eggs into women at its Center for Reproductive Health (CHL, 9/99).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.