The Occasional Human Sacrifice: Medical Experimentation and the Price of Saying No (Hardcover)

The Occasional Human Sacrifice: Medical Experimentation and the Price of Saying No By Carl Elliott Cover Image
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Shocking cases of abusive medical research and the whistleblowers who spoke out against them, sometimes at the expense of their careers.

The Occasional Human Sacrifice is an intellectual inquiry into the moral struggle that whistleblowers face, and why it is not the kind of struggle that most people imagine.

Carl Elliott is a bioethicist at the University of Minnesota who was trained in medicine as well as philosophy. For many years he fought for an external inquiry into a psychiatric research study at his own university in which an especially vulnerable patient lost his life. Elliott’s efforts alienated friends and colleagues. The university stonewalled him and denied wrongdoing until a state investigation finally vindicated his claims.

His experience frames the six stories in this book of medical research in which patients were deceived into participating 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 physicians who in 2016 blew the whistle on lethal synthetic trachea transplants at the Karolinska Institute, Elliott tells the extraordinary stories of insiders who spoke out against such abuses, and often paid a terrible price for doing the right thing.

About the Author

Carl Elliott is the author of Better than Well and White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine.

Praise For…

Riveting…. Detailing the extreme pressures to stay loyal that whistleblowers face, Elliott paints a damning portrait of the medical community’s workplace culture. Readers will be outraged and enthralled.
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Fascinating….A disturbingly eye-opening read.
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Meticulous and compelling….I was unable to stop reading this astonishing book’s riveting accounts of the paradoxes inherent in assuming the role, action, and devastating punishments accruing to medical whistleblower. I absorbed it in a single evening.
— Harriet Washington, author of Medical Apartheid

A brilliant, harrowing book: part medical investigation, part memoir, part searing portrait of human behavior— from systematic cruelty to near-obsessive moral codes. Carl Elliott has written a page-turner that manages to be both cynical and deeply compassionate. Urgent, unforgettable, and beautifully written.
— Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members and The Shakespeare Requirement

Carl Elliott, one of America's most important and humane voices calling out medical corruption, goes deep in The Occasional Human Sacrifice. It's not only about research that amounts to human torture, or even taking on some of the marquee institutions in science. This important book explores how corruption in any realm germinates and why people blow the whistle despite the price they pay.

— Brian Alexander, author of Glass House and The Hospital

What reads at first like a sly crash course on Nicomachean ethics quickly reveals itself as a rip snorting thriller about lone-wolf whistleblowers who’ve peeked inside America’s elegant, well-funded human-trial labs to find a bloody, nearly Aztecan barbarism.
— Jack Hitt, author of Off the Road and Bunch of Amateurs

Product Details
ISBN: 9781324065500
ISBN-10: 1324065508
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: May 14th, 2024
Pages: 368
Language: English