AAMC Ad Hoc Committee on the Maintenance of High Ethical Standards in the Conduct of

 

AAMC Ad Hoc Committee on the Maintenance of High Ethical Standards in the Conduct of
Research, The Maintenance of High Ethical Standards in the Conduct of Research. Association
of American Medical Colleges, 24 June 1982.

This will probably be called the Krevans Report, after Julius R. Krevans, Chairman of the
Committee and Dean of The School of Medicine, U. of California, San Francisco. There is a
terse introduction by John Cooper, President of the Association, who suggests that the
Committee "...resulted from concerns that the wide attention received by several instances of
misconduct by biomedical investigators would call into question the integrity of the whole
research enterprise." (p. iii) Cooper assumes that faculties should have the responsibility of
maintaining high ethical standards. It was probably with those charges that the Committee began
its work.

"The primary goal of this document is to set forth guidelines and recommendations that will be
useful to medical schools and teaching hospitals in designing their individual institutional
approaches to dealing with alleged misconduct by researchers." (p. 1) The Committee is
obviously interested in promoting a climate in which fraud is not going to happen when it is
quickly and severely dealt with. Fraud is a "breach of contract" and there are consequences for
defrauders that go beyond a slap on the wrist if the the proper mechanisms are in place.

The thinking here concerns reported fraud: what happens if and when a colleague blows a
whistle? Looking bad is the issue. The Committee has it that the institution will not look bad if it
makes clear that it is conducting a full-scale study of the case. If the investigation finds the
accused guilty, then he must be sacrificed for the whole institution. If he is innocent of
wrongdoing, it must be made clear that safeguarding the whole costs some individuals a lot. The
assumptions here include that the university at which fraud occurs should "police" itself and be
stern if not harsh. The expectation is that local punishment for crime can be swift and sure. This
may be true, but Draconian punishments have been notoriously unsuccessful in deterring crimes
in the past.