Tuesday, October 20, 2015

"An unfortunate experiment at National Women's": a case study in successful medical muckraking

The "unfortunate experiment" into the progression of cervical carcinoma in situ, conducted at the National Women's Hospital in Auckland, led to the most far-reaching reforms of research protection in New Zealand history.  And like many other research scandals, the "unfortunate experiment" was brought to light not by oversight authorities, but by journalists -- in this case, Sandra Coney and Phillida Bunkle, writing in Metro magazine in June, 1987.  When the Metro article was published, public outrage was almost immediate.  A government investigation -- The Cartwright Inquiry --  was initiated right away and completed within a year, resulting in sweeping changes to the protection of patient rights in New Zealand.

And yet the original Metro article is very difficult to find.  That's why I have posted it online.  For anyone interested in how investigative journalism can produce genuine medical reform, this excellent piece is worth careful study.

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