The verdict, read out by panel chairman Dr Surendra Kumar, criticised Dr Wakefield for the invasive tests, such as spinal taps, that were carried out on children and which were found to be against their best clinical interests.By the GMC's procedures, sanctions are handed down at a later date. Yesterday was the date and Wakefield was struck from the medical register:
The panel said Dr Wakefield, who was working at London's Royal Free Hospital as a gastroenterologist at the time, did not have the ethical approval or relevant qualifications for such tests.
The GMC also took exception with the way he gathered blood samples. Dr Wakefield paid children £5 for the samples at his son's birthday party.
Dr Kumar said he had acted with "callous disregard for the distress and pain the children might suffer".
He also said Dr Wakefield should have disclosed the fact that he had been paid to advise solicitors acting for parents who believed their children had been harmed by the MMR.
In making the verdict on the sanctions, Dr Surendra Kumar, the panel's chairman, said Dr Wakefield had "brought the medical profession into disrepute" and his behaviour constituted "multiple separate instances of serious professional misconduct".Two of his colleagues were also found guilty and one of them also struck from the register.
In total, he was found guilty of more than 30 charges.
Dr Kumar also explained the reasoning for striking Dr Wakefield off.
"The panel concluded that it is the only sanction that is appropriate to protect patients and is in the wider public interest, including the maintenance of public trust and confidence in the profession, and is proportionate to the serious and wide-ranging findings made against him."
Wakefield, of course, believes himself innocent:
Dr Wakefield has consistently claimed the allegations against him were "unfounded and unjust"."Unfounded and unjust"? ORLY? Shall we remember?
As the GMC announced its sanctions, Dr Wakefield said: "Efforts to discredit and silence me through the GMC process have provided a screen to shield the government from exposure on the MMR vaccine scandal."
[T]wo years before his study was published, Wakefield had been approached by a lawyer representing several families with autistic children. The lawyer specifically hired Wakefield to do research to find justification for a class action suit against MMR manufacturers. The children of the lawyer’s clients were referred to Wakefield for the study, and 11 of his 12 subjects were eventually litigants. Wakefield failed to disclose this conflict of interest. He also failed to disclose how the subjects were recruited for his study.The ruling sounds about right, all the way around. Hopefully it will affect his ability to practice medicine here in the US (where I believe he has an autism clinic).
Wakefield was paid a total of nearly half a million pounds plus expenses by the lawyer. The payments were billed through a company of Wakefield’s wife. He never declared his source of funding until it was revealed by Brian Deer. Originally he had denied being paid at all. Even after he admitted it, he lied about the amount he was paid. Before the study was published, Wakefield had filed patents for his own separate measles vaccine, as well as other autism-related products. He failed to disclose this significant conflict of interest. Human research must be approved by the hospital’s ethics committee. Wakefield’s study was not approved. When confronted, Wakefield first claimed that it was approved, then claimed he didn’t need approval. Wakefield bought blood samples for his research from children (as young as 4) attending his son’s birthday party. He callously joked in public about them crying, fainting and vomiting. He paid the kids £5 each.
The General Medical Council accused him of ordering invasive and potentially harmful studies (colonoscopies and spinal taps) without proper approval and contrary to the children’s clinical interests, when these diagnostic tests were not indicated by the children’s symptoms or medical history. One child suffered multiple bowel perforations during the colonoscopy. Several had problems with the anesthetic. Children were subjected to sedation for other non-indicated tests like MRIs. Brian Deer was able to access the medical records of Wakefield’s subjects. He found that several of them had evidence of autistic symptoms documented in their medical records before they got the MMR vaccine. The intestinal biopsies were originally reported as normal by hospital pathologists. They were reviewed, re-interpreted, and reported as abnormal in Wakefield’s paper. [...]
[While the post is about Dr. Wakefield & the ruling against him (& his colleagues), it's inevitable that the conversation in comments will also include the topic of vaccinations in-general. Thus, we have some commenting guidelines on this one: We realize there are varying views on vaccines among Shakers, and no opinion is off-limits in the discussion, but we request that people make sure they are using "I" language to express those opinions and not making sweeping generalizations. Let's keep this a civil conversation, please.]