Recently I watched a segment on 60 Minutes about the fungal meningitis outbreak. After listening to the interviews, it was clear that people lost their lives because of greed.
The compounding pharmacy broke numerous rules that resulted in mass production and distribution of contaminated steroids. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last time that greed results in poor judgment and tragedy.
In my home state of Michigan, hematologist-oncologist Farid Fata was recently charged with Medicare fraud. Dr. Fata allegedly ordered chemotherapy for patients who did not have cancer or whose cancer was in remission.
If the charges turn out to be legitimate, he intentionally harmed several patients for financial gain. As the story unfolds, the public will learn how many patients endured unnecessary cancer treatments in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.
This type of practice doesn't stop with Dr. Fata. The motivation to commit fraud by Dr. Werner Bezwoda, a South African clinical investigator, was less certain.
In May 1999, Dr. Bezwoda presented his research at a meeting for the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He claimed to have found a remarkable benefit for high-dose chemotherapy for patients with breast cancer.
After an audit by a group of American physicians it was revealed that Dr. Bezwoda falsified the data. Later, Dr. Bezwoda sent a letter to his colleagues admitting that he had "committed a serious breach of scientific honesty and integrity" and had misrepresented his results. He then resigned from his university position.
Are you aware of any cases similar to those mentioned above? If so, what was the outcome?
What can nurses do to help keep patients out of harm's way?