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Maurice Henry Pappworth

(1910—1994) medical ethicist and educationist


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(1910–94). British physician and ethicist. Pappworth held junior posts in Liverpool and served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the Second World War before going into private practice and private teaching. The anxiety of many of his pupils about the human experimentation going on in teaching hospitals in Britain at the time led him to document published examples of seemingly unethical practices, particularly where procedures carried no benefit to the patient and no informed consent had been obtained. In 1967 he expanded an earlier article into a book Human guinea pigs, in which he documented experiments on residents of institutions, prisons, and hospitals; named the experimenters responsible; and criticized ethical standards. The book caused outrage amongst the medical establishment of the time, but Pappworth had nothing to lose over his brave stance, and he was supported by similar work published from Harvard by the professor of anesthesiology there, Henry K. Beecher. The resultant public furore led to professional reports and the belated establishment of a code of medical ethics and the setting up all over the world of research ethics committees to vet applications for therapeutic research involving humans. In many countries the procedure was extended to animal research as well.

From The Oxford Companion to Medicine in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Medicine and Health.


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