June 30, 2022

Flawed papers based on unethical UK research remain unretracted

Research papers based on body parts taken from hundreds of dead children without their parents’ consent were “fundamentally flawed,” according to a January 2001 report. However, over a decade later, Nature News reports that only one of those papers has been removed from the scientific record. The lack of action – even in what seems to be a clear-cut case – could point to reluctance by institutions and journals in retracting papers when the authors stand by the results.

Research papers based on body parts taken from hundreds of dead children without their parents’ consent were “fundamentally flawed,” according to a January 2001 report. However, over a decade later, Nature News reports that only one of those papers has been removed from the scientific record. The lack of action – even in what seems to be a clear-cut case – could point to reluctance by institutions and journals in retracting papers when the authors stand by the results.

A series of government inquiries conducted by the British government, the police and the General Medical Council revealed that in the late 1990s, pathologists in the UK had routinely taken organs and tissue samples from children’s bodies without their parents’ permission. Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool was at the centre of the scandal.

A government-commissioned report stated that Dutch pathologist Dick van Velzen harvested all organs from the bodies that he examined at the hospital, storing the tissues for research. However, van Velzen often failed to enact proper post-mortems on these children, filing uncompleted autopsy reports or simply making them up. ~ Nature News, Aug 16

Jared Yee
informed consent
respect
respect for cadavers
UK