Saturday, October 09, 1999

Chronology of radiation study

        • 1960-1972: University of Cincinnati researchers conduct the total-body irradiation study, sponsored by the Defense Atomic Support Agency. The project is led by Dr. Eugene Saenger, a former military doctor who became the father of UC's department of nuclear medicine and a world-class authority on the health effects of radiation.

        • 1971: A Washington Post article reports that UC patients were being used as guinea pigs in military research, prompting an investigation by Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.

        • 1972: A Junior Faculty Report, co-authored by UC professor Martha Stephens and others, questions the ethics of the radiation study. Later, a blue ribbon panel clears the project of wrongdoing, but UC also refuses to accept any more military funding for it. No other sponsors are found. Requests to release the names of the patients are denied.

        • 1994: An Enquirer investigation identifies 32 patients, primarily by matching names provided by relatives who contacted the newspaper's radiation hot line to initials and other details found in the research reports. Several families hire lawyers to sue UC, the researchers and the city, which owned General Hospital at the time.

        • Jan. 11, 1995: U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith issues a key order denying a defense motion seeking immunity for the researchers because they worked for the government. The decision asserts a constitutional right to “bodily integrity.”

        • 1997-99: Often-bitter settlement talks go back and forth, requiring intervention by a federal mediator and the judge. Several families object to an initial settlement proposal that precluded any individual families from pursuing their own cases.

        • March 1999: More money, plus a limited right to opt out, persuades objectors to sign on. Settlement talks boil down to a single person who hasn't agreed to the deal.

        • May 4, 1999: With all parties in agreement, Judge Beckwith gives final approval for the settlement.

        • This week: University Hospital carries out court order to install a memorial plaque, located in an out-of-the-way courtyard near where research subjects received radiation doses.

Plaque doesn't end pain of UC radiation case
Radiation controversy outlasts lawsuit

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