Bill combats human experimentation

Kadima MK proposes law after doctors sued for unethical experiments on elderly.

October 11, 2006 01:50
2 minute read.
helping hand

elderly senior 88.298. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Knesset members stepped up legislative efforts Tuesday to limit human experimentation after four doctors were brought to court for conducting unethical experiments on elderly patients. MK Shlomo Breznitz (Kadima), who proposed a bill to place limitations on human experimentations during the last Knesset session, said he would increase pressure on his fellow MKs to vote in favor of the bill. What's new on Breznitz's law aims to create a panel that would regularly check up on doctors who have already been given permission to conduct human experiments. Currently, doctors must pass rigorous standards to be granted permission to experiment on humans, said Brenitz, but once given permission, are free to do as they wish. "As seen by the alleged crimes highlighted earlier this week, there is a great need to revise the system," said Breznitz. On Monday, four senior doctors at the Kaplan Medical Center's Harzfeld Geriatric Hospital appeared at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court over charges they abused elderly patients during their human experiments. Police said that the charges issued against the doctors could include abuse of helpless victims, assault under aggravated circumstances, causing death through negligence, fraud, forgery, and obstruction of an investigation, and added that additional suspects would be investigated in the coming days. Investigators believe that the doctors were involved with experiments on elderly patients - often suffering from degenerative dementia - who were hospitalized at the facility. Police said the experiments, some of which allegedly involved invasive procedures, recurrent blood drawing, and even the administering of psychotropic medications, were carried out illegally and without notifying or obtaining the permission of the patients' families. According to suspicions, at least one elderly woman died as a result of the experiments, which were allegedly conducted between 2000-2003. Breznitz, a former clinical psychologist, said he used his own experience as a doctor conducting experiments on humans to draft the legislation. "I know exactly what is involved in these experiments through my own work," said Breznitz. "I know the loopholes, the way things that shouldn't happen do. This very complicated and comprehensive law would fix many of the current problems with human experiments." The bill has been supported by MK Ephraim Sneh (Labor), a former health minister and a combat medic during the Yom Kippur War. "In the upcoming Knesset session, I call on MKs to pass this important piece of legislature and revise the flawed system," said Sneh. MK Dan Naveh (Likud), the health minister under the previous government, also announced Tuesday he would work towards passing legislation to create more rigorous standards for medical testing.

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