WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, issued the following statement today regarding an investigative report issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General (IG) citing human subject violations at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System in Little Rock, Arkansas.
"VA research, and the protections afforded to veterans, must be above reproach. In this case, they were not. The human subject violations uncovered by the IG amount to a breach of trust between the researchers and the veterans who trusted them."
The IG report concluded that VA researchers, in collaboration with the University of Arkansas, obtained HIV tests on subjects without consent, could not produce consent documents for all human subjects, and did not report deaths occurring during the course of protocol. The IG also reported that since these problems were identified, the Little Rock facility has "made significant progress towards remedying some of the issues identified" in the investigation.
"VA research is important to the veterans it directly serves, as well as the American public, who gain from VA's research discoveries. In addition, their research program brings in healthcare professionals who otherwise may not consider working at VA," said Akaka.
"VA must continue to engage in beneficial partnerships with medical schools across the nation. However, when VA identifies serious problems in their collaborative research, they must be able to act independently to restore accountability.
"I appreciate that VA is already taking action to correct problems raised in this investigation, and I urge them to continue. This never should have happened, but more importantly, VA must prevent it from happening again."