February 28, 2024

Norwegian doctors “thick as thieves”, claims ethicist

Anger over scientist censured for rebuking colleagues in media
In a stinging attack on his colleagues, a leading British-Norwegian ethicist has alleged that the Norwegian medical association has attempted to stifle ethical debate. Writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Søren Holm, of Cardiff Law School, says that the Norwegian Medical Association’s Council for Professional Ethics has made an "astonishing, perverse and immensely problematic" in censuring a scientist. The case in question involves a major scientific fraud which has been overshadowed by the even more audacious stem cell fraud in Korea. In January 2006 it was discovered that Norwegian scientist John Sudbø had falsified all the data in an article in Lancet. None of his 13 co-authors knew what had happened and a professor of medical ethics at the University of Oslo, Jan Helge Solbakk, commented in the media that they all had "muck on their hands" and that they had not fulfilled their responsibilities as co-authors. The ethics council thereupon censured Solbakk for being "unnecessarily judgmental". 

Unfortunately, contends Holm, what this shows is that the public perception that doctors are "thick as thieves" and conspire against the laity is "not totally without justification". ~ Journal of Medical Ethics, January