Memory Loss — Unethical Anecdote

A 30-year-old Spanish-speaking woman complained of forgetting things.  She was a single mom working 2 jobs, and we counted out that she never slept over 4 hours a night.  Diagnosis made (in a few-minute visit) — Sleep Deprivation as cause of memory loss.  Then she explainedโ€ฆ

A radio announcement “do you or your loved ones have memory loss” sucked her into a research study at a major university.  I never learned the exact details, but they did extensive memory testing (through interpreters!) & an MRI, only to tell her “everything’s normal,” didn’t qualify for the study, and somehow billed her a few thousand $$$ [1990s] since she was uninsured [& undocumented].  I begged her to bring me paperwork, that our social worker would help her protest, but she got lost to follow-up.  Imagine advertising, in Spanish no less, for whatever Alzheimer’s research, & not screening out the young & healthy in a flash.

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