Doctors Fined for Implanting Fecal Bacteria into Patients’ Brains

This sounds like the worst episode of House ever.
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A hospital was fined after a pair of neurosurgeons implanted fecal bacteria into the brains of patients during operations without proper authorization. A few things jump out at us here. 1) They did WHAT!?! 2) There’s proper authorization for putting poop in people’s brains!?! 3) Ewwwwwww.

The doctors work at the University of California Davis Medical Center and were implanting the fecal bacteria to encourage an infection that would attack brain tumors in patients suffering from end stage glioblastoma multiforme. This procedure had never been attempted on humans before, and the doctors failed to properly clear their Maverick and Goose medical strategies with hospital administrators and whoever else can approve something like this.

The UC Davis Chief Medical Officer gave the greenlight for one experimental implantation if the surgeons got the proper authorizations elsewhere, which they did not. They implanted the fecal bacteria anyway and were issued a cease and desist order which they ignored, implanting the bacteria in two more patients.

One patient developed encephalitis, became septic, and died. Another died due to brain swelling that resulted from the infection caused by the bacteria, and a third was in a nursing home for 11 months fighting the infection.

For the doctors’ actions the hospital was fined $50,000, which seems like not nearly enough money to fine someone when three patients get fecal bacteria implanted into their brains on purpose.

Implanting fecal bacteria from one patient to another can be useful in fighting certain infections, but that doesn’t mean you should just start implanting it wherever you find a tumor.

(via Healthleaders Media, image via Biology Corner)

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Glen Tickle
Glen is a comedian, writer, husband, and father. He won his third-grade science fair and is a former preschool science teacher, which is a real job.