The Occasional Human Sacrifice

The Occasional Human Sacrifice: Medical Experimentation And The Price Of Saying No

Elliott, Carl

Shocking cases of abusive medical research and the whistleblowers who spoke out against them, sometimes at the expense of their careers.
The Occasional Human Sacrifice is an intellectual inquiry into the moral struggle that whistleblowers face, and why it is not the kind of struggle that most people imagine.

Carl Elliott is a bioethicist at the University of Minnesota who was trained in medicine as well as philosophy. For many years he fought for an external inquiry into a psychiatric research study at his own university in which an especially vulnerable patient lost his life. Elliott’s efforts alienated friends and colleagues. The university stonewalled him and denied wrongdoing until a state investigation finally vindicated his claims.

His experience frames the six stories in this book of medical research in which patients were deceived into participating in experimental programs they did not understand, many of which had astonishing and well-concealed mortality rates. Beginning with the public health worker who exposed the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and ending with the four physicians who in 2016 blew the whistle on lethal synthetic trachea transplants at the Karolinska Institute, Elliott tells the extraordinary stories of insiders who spoke out against such abuses, and often paid a terrible price for doing the right thing.