May 19, 2024

Call to prosecute “criminal” Israeli doctors over human experiments

A leading Israeli doctor and bioethicist has called for the prosecution of olleagues who did thousands of unauthorised and illegal experiments on children and old people and psychiatric patients. A government investigation has found that researchers in public hospitals administered drugs, performed painful procedures and were negligent in reporting deaths. Dr Jacques Michel, a former director of Hadassah Hospital, says: "These doctors should be punished very severely because they really are criminals. They should be stripped of their licences and they should be prosecuted."


The state comptroller, Eliezer Goldberg, found that patients were often not properly informed about the experiments they were participating in and sometimes not informed at all. In a few cases, the thumbprints of senile patients were applied to consent forms. In one 1995 experiment on smoking prevention, an experiment on 20 patients expanded to 4,000 without authorisation. Often proper consent was not given and some patients experienced light to severe physical side effects which were not reported to a doctor. In other experiments, deaths were not reported immediately, as required, thus making it difficult to establish whether the experiments were to blame.


Although all Israeli hospitals have medical ethics committees to oversee adherence to the 1964 Helsinki code of medical experimentation, many do not supervise the experiments that they have authorised and do not always establish committees to investigate deaths. The Israeli health minister said that he was "shocked" by the results of the investigation.