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Commission of historians is scrutinising 110,000 patients' files

(Vienna 3rd April 2013) The independent commission of historians that is meant to throw light on the post-war history of the Medical Faculty of the University of Vienna at that time with respect to the methods for research and patient treatment is on schedule one year after their establishment in the spring season of 2012. This was underlined by the Head of the Commission, Gernot Heiss, in the first review. According to the historian, a final report on the work done by the commission of historians is expected in 2014.

After the approval of the sponsorship necessary to finance the work of the commission, it has now also been resolved to develop a database for the patients. "We are checking about 110,000 files, says Heiss. The focus of the statistical evaluation of the information in the patients' files until the end of 2013 is on the six "core" years from 1955 until 1960, and on the so-called "malaria therapy" and the medical treatment of those suffering from psychic diseases with the same diagnoses at the then "Klinik Hoff ".

It is the task of the commission of historians deployed by the MedUni Vienna to clarify whether research activities had been carried out at that time that did not comply with ethical principles or the status of research. The evaluation is done anonymously and is not specific to certain individuals.

In the first step, this is analysed on the basis of various therapies that were used with the same diagnoses at the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology. Says Heiss: "We want to analyse the proportion of patients that were administered malaria therapy, the arguments with which it was used and how the therapy had developed in the course of time."

With the reworking of the events between 1945 and 1978, the year of establishment of the Ethics Commission of the MedUni Vienna which has scrutinised all clinical research projects for ethical aspects since then, the MedUni Vienna is facing up to its history and responsibility. "We would like to know everything about any 'dark spots'", emphasised Rector Wolfgang Schütz at the time of establishing the commission a year ago.

The work of the commission of historians is being sponsored by the funds available with the Mayor of the city of Vienna for 107,000 Euros and the Anniversary Funds of the Austrian National Bank for 101,000 Euros.