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SarahBell

Incompetent staff

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http://metro.co.uk/2017/01/25/students-left-fighting-for-life-after-taking-enough-caffeine-for-300-cups-of-coffee-6405671/?ito=facebook

 

‘It would be mixed with water and orange juice but they were erroneously given 30.7g and 32g of caffeine, which was 100 times the dosage they should have been given,’ he said.

He told the court that death has previously been reported after consumption of just 18g and the students were left in a ‘life-threatening condition’.

The university, which has more than 30,000 students and a budget of almost £250 million, had switched from using caffeine tablets to powder, which, he said, meant supervision was vital.

But he said: ‘The staff were not experienced or competent enough and they had never done it on their own before. The university took no steps to make sure the staff knew how to do it.’

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A whole range of incompetencies.  

  • Their research ethics committee should have mandated a staff competency / minimum training and a standardised procedure to follow.  Possible EC incompetency.
  • (and if they used an approved procedure to get away without full EC, then the AP was clearly not up to it, particularly as they seem to have changed approach recently -- they were probably deviating from any AP)
  • The trial specific protocol should have detailed tasks for any human trial, particularly when there is any drugs being administered.  The SP should also have had 'allowable doses', so that the crazy doses being metered would have been picked up.
  • The principal/chief investigator should have written out the trial specific tasks in detail, and ensured that the necessary tools and training were used.
  • The trial investigators themselves should have had sufficient nous to not do stupid things.

I'd probably blame the chief investigator, but if it is someone fairly new/young, then I'd go for whoever was supervising him as being over lax.  But I'd also look into general procedures being followed across the university to check that there isn't a systemic problem in the university.  I'd probably not blame the actual people who did the mis-administration, other than if everything else was perfect and it was a culpable negligence.

Frankly, having undertaken human research in universities, the public sector and the private sector, I'd say that universities generally have an over lax attitude to the necessary precautions (should be said that only some are dreadful, and many are exemplary).

 

 

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7 minutes ago, spyguy said:

Its Sports science!

Have you ever spoken to a sports science graduae?

 

I was going to say how much could be explained therein.

 

 

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38 minutes ago, spyguy said:

Its Sports science!

Have you ever spoken to a sports science graduae?

They have to be able to count. I spose how high depends on the sport they're interested in. And tennis is crap for teaching counting.

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I'd add that I'd also blame the departmental head of finance -- they've clearly just moved from a pro-plus system to powder, all to save a few pennies -- there should be much greater understanding of the impact of such changes on the risk held by the institution.

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should have been given 0.3g of caffeine, but were in fact given 30g

These things keep cropping up. It only takes the placing of one wrong decimal point, and you have an error in the magnitude of 10, or even 100 which can be the difference between life or death.

Where possible, avoid using decimal points.

1g = 1000mg

0.3g = 300mg

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Failure of Duty of Care....

Hope the two students pull through. If they don't I would expect a Manslaughter charge, if they do they won't be needing their degrees with the level of compo they will be getting...

 

Edit to add just noticed this is a dated article. Glad the guys pulled through but the Uni still needs a kick up the rectum....

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32 minutes ago, dgul said:

I'd add that I'd also blame the departmental head of finance -- they've clearly just moved from a pro-plus system to powder, all to save a few pennies -- there should be much greater understanding of the impact of such changes on the risk held by the institution idiots.

fixed.

What you say might have validity when applied to consumers. But this is a research institution (supposedly).

The labs at my university had all kinds of sh!t, from tubs of alkali metals to bio-hazards to high tension supplies, to microwave generators to gamma and x-rays sources to spontaneously combusting and exploding reagents to liquid nitrogen vats, cylinders of hazardous gases, lasers that would punch holes in sheet metal etc. That's what research and teaching labs have - or at least should have.

'Course there were plenty of students you wouldn't allow near anything more offensive than a copy of pride and prejudice, and thankfully, that's all they wanted. :P

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1 hour ago, SarahBell said:

They have to be able to count. I spose how high depends on the sport they're interested in. And tennis is crap for teaching counting.

Woh there. As I said earlier - Have you met a Sports science graduate?

No, they dont need to count. Most barely bothered with school. never mind maths.

 

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1 hour ago, dgul said:

I'd add that I'd also blame the departmental head of finance -- they've clearly just moved from a pro-plus system to powder, all to save a few pennies -- there should be much greater understanding of the impact of such changes on the risk held by the institution.

What has saving a few quid a year - I doubt they use that much caffeine - cost them? 400k!

Ought to come out of the VC and Dean's salary and pension.

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, dgul said:

A whole range of incompetencies.  

  • Their research ethics committee should have mandated a staff competency / minimum training and a standardised procedure to follow.  Possible EC incompetency.
  • (and if they used an approved procedure to get away without full EC, then the AP was clearly not up to it, particularly as they seem to have changed approach recently -- they were probably deviating from any AP)

I would have expected a change in administration to have needed an updated procedure, although it possibly might not have required a amendment and return to the EC.

I've been involved with a couple of trials of surgical procedures recently. The original research protocol was for the surgery to be X-ray guided, but one of the surgeons at one of the sites was uncomfortable using a 2D X-ray image, and wanted to use 3D computed images. Same surgical procedure, same X-ray equipment, but in order to accommodate this, we needed a substantial amendment with new sign-off from radiation experts and then back to the EC.

My experience is in the NHS, where people tend to be quite paranoid over research. I came across one project where the protocol required a blood test. As is common, the blood would need to clot in the tube prior to analysis, so the CI had written in the procedure that the "blood sample must be left to stand for 15 minutes to allow clotting prior to centrifugation". The EC threw it back, because the procedure did not specify who was timing the 15 minutes, where compliance with the 15 minutes would be documented, and what the procedure was if the time was exceeded. The solution in this case was fairly straightforward, the procedure was changed to read "the blood sample must stand until clotted prior to centrifugation."

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1 hour ago, Sledgehead said:

fixed.

What you say might have validity when applied to consumers. But this is a research institution (supposedly).

The labs at my university had all kinds of sh!t, from tubs of alkali metals to bio-hazards to high tension supplies, to microwave generators to gamma and x-rays sources to spontaneously combusting and exploding reagents to liquid nitrogen vats, cylinders of hazardous gases, lasers that would punch holes in sheet metal etc. That's what research and teaching labs have - or at least should have.

'Course there were plenty of students you wouldn't allow near anything more offensive than a copy of pride and prejudice, and thankfully, that's all they wanted. :P

Not when it comes to human experimentation, you don't.   There are well defined laws that you have to submit to, and it doesn't matter if you're head of department or doing an MSc project.

Every single experimenter, before touching any human volunteer, should at the very least be given a summary of the Declaration of Helsinki to read.  Not 'should' as in 'in a perfect world', but 'should' as in 'to reduce the risk of the head of department being hauled before an investigation into criminal negligence'.  

This is a stupid case -- the individuals concerned had clearly never even seen the right dose of caffeine being metered out.  

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Kind if shows how little common sense people have.  

You would have thought the (presumably university level) staff would have looked at the pile of caffeine they were about to administer and noticed it was way way bigger than a proplus.

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30g is around 6 teaspoon fulls of caffeine, even this of just instant coffee would make you feel ill. Those responsible were clearly complete imbeciles. I'm an engineer/physicist In a uni and know were decimal points should be but I would not even get involved in calculating drug doses to volunteers for fear of a screw up. Absolutely unbelievable.

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1 hour ago, dgul said:

Not when it comes to human experimentation, you don't.  

What is the definition of human experimentation?

If I were a sports scientist looking at something pedestrian like post exercise cardio recovery rates, would that be 'human experimentation'? Or what about effects of hydration?

I'm interested to know just how far regs have reached.

Presumably all this explains why experiments in schools no longer involve kids making their hair stand on end by touching Van de Graff generators or dropping lumps of sodium in water?

It's probably also responsible for why so many seem to think science is composed of a bunch of opinions: they are so used to sfx and cgi that they no longer trust their own eyes, and never get the chance to do things with their own hands, so facts merge with beliefs. And that probably leads to tutors who administer 30g of caffeine w/o a single voice of dissent.

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11 minutes ago, Sledgehead said:

What is the definition of human experimentation?

If I were a sports scientist looking at something pedestrian like post exercise cardio recovery rates, would that be 'human experimentation'? Or what about effects of hydration?

I'm interested to know just how far regs have reached.

Yes.  Both those would need approval from an ethics committee.  Now, with something like that you'd create a standard approved procedure (or, rather, a big pile of approved procedures) which you'd get approved all in one go.  But you'd have to follow the procedure -- any deviations would be bad.

To show how far reaching it is, I've had to have ethics committee approval for a survey (just asking questions) and for a visual only task (looking at stuff on a display).

11 minutes ago, Sledgehead said:

 

Presumably all this explains why experiments in schools no longer involve kids making their hair stand on end by touching Van de Graff generators or dropping lumps of sodium in water?

Well, the static electricity stuff would be a demonstration and not strictly experimentation, but you'd do well to follow a standard procedure.  The sodium would be simple health and safety -- nothing to do with human experimentation.

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7 hours ago, debtlessmanc said:

30g is around 6 teaspoon fulls of caffeine, even this of just instant coffee would make you feel ill. Those responsible were clearly complete imbeciles. I'm an engineer/physicist In a uni and know were decimal points should be but I would not even get involved in calculating drug doses to volunteers for fear of a screw up. Absolutely unbelievable.

Ah .. you obviously have met a sports science graduate.

Years ago, my partner worked at a financial service co, long dead and gone now.

They decided to step up there recruitment, so rather than ask for GCSE pases in Maths and English, they  specced 'graduate'.

They did not change the pay scales.

Their graduate intake consist of the unemployable arts + humananities degree + sport science. Not a single one could do the very basic Maths required for the job.

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12 hours ago, spyguy said:

Woh there. As I said earlier - Have you met a Sports science graduate?

No, they dont need to count. Most barely bothered with school. never mind maths.

 

So how do they add on an extra goal? Do they employ someone with maths skills to keep score? Is this why premier league football is so expensive?

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13 hours ago, Sledgehead said:

fixed.

What you say might have validity when applied to consumers. But this is a research institution (supposedly).

The labs at my university had all kinds of sh!t, from tubs of alkali metals to bio-hazards to high tension supplies, to microwave generators to gamma and x-rays sources to spontaneously combusting and exploding reagents to liquid nitrogen vats, cylinders of hazardous gases, lasers that would punch holes in sheet metal etc. That's what research and teaching labs have - or at least should have.

'Course there were plenty of students you wouldn't allow near anything more offensive than a copy of pride and prejudice, and thankfully, that's all they wanted. :P

Was in a lab once where a research student was told to make sure to balance the tubes in the ultracentrifuge, and was shown how to do it. But when it came to real life, the student had one tube with a liquid of high density that couldn't be balanced with water in the other tube, as there just wasn't room - but by adding a few ball bearings .....

The first I knew of it was when I heard the centrifuge reach about 75,000g. Initiative, eh?

and then there was the lab where we all had to walk around a dustbin in the middle of the lab for quite a while, because of the hot patch that happened to be underneath.

I've worked in some interesting places.

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