Saturday, March 9, 2013

On the U's claim that duplicate "evaluation to consent" form may have been faked

On February 28, when the Star Tribune reported on my request that the University of Minnesota investigate the mystery of the duplicate "evaluation to consent" forms, Mark Rotenberg, the General Counsel for the university, gave an interesting response.  He appeared to suggest that the mysterious duplicate "evaluation to consent" forms that the families of research subjects say they have found in their medical files had been faked.  Specifically, Rotenberg "questioned whether the supposedly duplicate forms were simply all copies of documents from the Markingson legal files, which have been scanned and published online by critics of the university and its handling of the Markingson case."  Since I am the critic of the university who has scanned and posted those documents, I can only assume that Rotenberg means either that I faked the duplicate forms, or that I have been duped by people falsely claiming to have been mistreated by university psychiatrists.

Well, I didn't fake the forms.  And I don't believe that the families who contacted me were lying, nor do I believe that the form I was given was faked. But I promised anonymity to the family who provided that form, and I will not break that promise. There is a simple way to resolve this argument, however.  The university can provide me with the "evaluation to consent" forms for all subjects in the CAFE and CATIE studies, with identifying information redacted.  Then the families who have found duplicate "evaluation to consent" forms in their files can examine those forms and see how they match up.

Of course, it was my request for an investigation that prompted the Star Tribune article in the first place. That request was denied by Frances Lawrenz, the Research Integrity Officer, after consulting with the Office of the General Counsel. So I have filed a Data Practices Act request to the university, asking for the "evaluation to consent" forms for all research subjects in the CAFE and CATIE studies. I have no reason to believe that the university will grant my request, given its past record, but if I do get the forms I will post them on Scribd.

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