People are more comfortable with black and white, and less so with gray. This isn’t a reference to artwork, but rather the way that things work in the world. There is right and wrong, left and right, and one side of the fence, or the other.

“Gray” happens in medicine and quite frequently in the realm of bioethics, the study of ethical and moral implications of new biomedical discoveries, advances and new and not-so-new procedures. When clinicians grapple with whether an organ transplant should be performed over a family’s objections, for example, that is bioethics.

Alabama-led study under scrutiny

In March, a federal agency known as the Office for Human Research Protections notified the University of Alabama that it was not compliant with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulations for the protection of human research subjects. UAB was the lead investigator in this study, which included 23 institutions, among them Stanford, Duke, Emory and Yale.

HHS said the risks of the study, which compared the effect of two different oxygen levels in babies’ blood, were not properly communicated to the parents of some 1,300 infants in the permissions forms and that the risks included blindness, neurological damage and death. The study was conducted between 2004 and 2009, and results were published in 2010. Read full post »