Thursday, July 16, 2015

Another ethics scandal for the University of Minnesota Dept. of Psychiatry

From a Report on Fox 9 News Video available at the link

The University of Minnesota has another ethics scandal on its hands. And once again it involves the Department of Psychiatry. This latest case of research misconduct involves falsifying records.

Dr. Ken Winters is a Psychologist who has worked at the U of M for 26 years. He was about to begin a new study for the National Institute on Drug Abuse on ways to stop teenagers from taking drugs, but before proceeding, a University review board wanted Winters to get something in writing from the federal government.

It would have been a legal document that would protect researchers from having to disclose confidential information about study participants should those participants ever get into trouble with the law. Winters told the Fox 9 Investigators he got tired of waiting for the paperwork to arrive so he falsified his own version and turned it in to the University so the study could begin.

He declined an on camera interview but agreed to have his voice recorded.

"Poor judgement on my part," Winters said. "It was a terrible thing I did, so I have no real explanation. I've got no defense. My own stupidity, poor judgement."

Winters also said within hours of turning in the phony documents, he fessed up after being approached by concerned staff members. His misconduct is yet another slam for the school's Department of Psychiatry.

Earlier this spring, a legislative audit, prompted by a Fox 9 Investigation, found serious ethical concerns and conflicts of interest relating to the death of a research participant in a Psych Department drug trial.

"It is a serious ethical breach. It is another indication that there are issues and problems in the drug trials at the University Department of Psychiatry that need attention," Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles said.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse told the Fox 9 Investigators "it takes allegations of research misconduct seriously." But wouldn't comment on what, if anything, it’s doing about this case.

Winters said he hasn't been disciplined by the University for falsifying the document. Instead, he was given the option to retire at the end of the month.

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