The Occasional Human Sacrifice

Carl Elliott


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WW Norton & Co
25 June 2024
ISBN: 9781324065500
368 pages

From the publisher

Shocking cases of abusive medical research and the whistleblowers who spoke out against them, sometimes at the expense of the careers

For many years bioethicist Carl Elliott fought to expose a psychiatric research study at his own university in which an especially vulnerable patient lost his life. Elliott’s efforts alienated friends and colleagues and the university stonewalled him and denied wrongdoing until a state investigation finally vindicated his claims. This experience frames the six stories in this book of medical research in which patients allegedly gave their “consent” to participate 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 surgeons who blew the whistle in 2016 on lethal synthetic trachea transplants, Elliott tells the stories of insiders who spoke out against such abuses and often paid a terrible price for doing the right thing.