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THE WORLD WAR II PLUTONIUM EXPERIMENTS: CONTESTED STORIES AND THEIR LESSONS FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH AND INFORMED CONSENT

Abstract

During the Second World War medical researchers around the USAinjected 18 hospital patients with radioactive plutonium in orderto learn its effects on the body. Two documents, a newspaperaccount and a university committee report, tell divergent storiesof the scientists and patients involved in that experiment. Thisarticle uses those documents – plutonium narratives– as a catalyst for exploring the problematicrepresentation of past human experimentation, assumptions of moralprogress in medical research, and the nature of informed consenttoday. Informed consent is shown to be an evolving process anddiscursive practice that cannot be understood apart from itshistorical and cultural embeddedness.

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KAUFMAN, S.R. THE WORLD WAR II PLUTONIUM EXPERIMENTS: CONTESTED STORIES AND THEIR LESSONS FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH AND INFORMED CONSENT. Cult Med Psychiatry 21, 161–197 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1005360928209

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Keywords

  • Inform Consent
  • Medical Research
  • Human Experimentation
  • Hospital Patient
  • Committee Report