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What others say: Injection of students in medical class needs full inquiry and airing

Posted: April 14, 2014 - 4:08pm

Administrators at the University of Alaska Fairbanks have a major challenge on their hands since learning that students in a medical assistant program at UAF’s Career and Technical College were instructed to inject fellow students with a solution not authorized for use on humans or animals.

University officials so far appear to have responded with urgency and care to a situation that is highly troubling.

It’s not only Chancellor Brian Rogers and other top administrators who are wanting to understand how an instructor could, apparently, so blatantly ignore the warning labels on the solution’s containers. Past and present students of the instructor will want to know, as will prospective students.

The incident became public Wednesday in a story by News-Miner reporter Jeff Richardson. The story quoted Chancellor Rogers as calling the injection problem “the most serious issue I’ve seen” since he became chancellor in 2008. He also said UAF accepts responsibility for the misuse of the solution.

It was a student who sensed that something wasn’t right with the class’s practice injections and contacted the solution’s manufacturer, who in turn quickly contacted university officials to express alarm at how the product was being used. The manufacturer instructed that the solution cease being used for injection practice on students and that students get medical attention.

The tasks facing UAF officials here are many.

They must find out how this happened.

They must correct the procedures that obviously failed and allowed this to happen.

They must, when determined appropriate, punish those whose decisions, actions or inactions allowed this to happen.

They must provide medical assistance to the students as needed.

They must make an extended effort to contact all students who may have been injected with the unauthorized solution this year or in prior years.

They must assist students whose degree schedule may have been thrown off track by the incident. And they must make the findings of their investigation public.

That’s a long list. But university officials have shown that they are, in fact, working on these very things.

Chancellor Rogers is clearly upset, as he should be. So far, he is saying and doing all the right things to maintain confidence in the university.

— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, April 12

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