Boston.com ran a story this weekend on an investigation that is being launched into a medical study involving nursing home residents. Apparently, the research team failed to inform nursing home residents of health risks that they discovered while conducting the study.
The 2007 study was conducted by the Institute for Aging Research, a group focused on improving the lives of area seniors-including limiting nursing home neglect. The specific research in question involved testing padded underwear to help protect the hips of patients following a fall. The padding was only on one side of the garment.
Investigators eventually learned that residents were falling more often on the side of the hip with the padding-but they did not tell seniors that. That meant that there was a risk that residents who wore the pad had an increased risk of falling because of it. Instead of warning residents about the risk, that fact was kept hidden. It represents an ethical breach and violation of the trust of those involved residents. Not only did those involved fail to properly warn residents, but they had previously said that they had “no information regarding whether wearing one hip protector influences gait or falling.”
Overall the study’s authors concluded that the garments did not provide any protection. However, private emails between the study’s authors revealed that problems existed in the study and the researchers failed to inform patients or those overseeing the research.
Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti respect all efforts to specifically study the efficacy of devices intended to protect seniors. However, it should be obvious that all ethical standards must be respected as part of the research effort. Nursing home participants must not be placed at increased risk of harm because of their willingness to help in the study.
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