‘Foolish and naive’ Whittington nurse given 12 month ban for citing imaginary research

Staff at the Whittington Hospital were said to be 'surprised' when they first learned of Mr Di Giaco

Staff at the Whittington Hospital were said to be 'surprised' when they first learned of Mr Di Giacomo's research paper. Picture: Anthony Devlin - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

Panel finds pioneering study never took place

A Whittington Hospital nurse has been suspended for 12 months after publishing a medical paper described as “one of the most comprehensive studies in its field” citing research that never took place.

Michele Di Giacomo blamed “foolishness” and “vanity” for his errors after claiming to have conducted a pilot study into the effectiveness of different catheters testing 300 cancer patients over six months.

However a Nurse and Midwifery Counicl (NMC) hearing went further - branding him dishonest.

Their report said: “What you had done was so grossly misleading that it could not be credibly regarded as a simple error arising from confusion or naivety.”

The results from the research, which was said to have taken place in 2007, were published in the prestigious British Journal of Nursing in 2009.

The study has since been cited 36 times by other research publications and is thought to have gathered global influence among the international medical community.

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But questions surrounding the legitimacy of the paper emerged after staff at the hospital in Magdala Avenue, Archway, claimed to be completely unaware of the study ever taking place.

Following an internal investigation at The Whittington, Mr Di Giacomo last year faced a Nurse and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing investigating the claims.

Presenting the case against the nurse, who left the Whittington in 2009, barrister Timothy Hogman claimed the number of patients quoted in the study was impossible, given the size and scope of the hospital.

He also noted Mr Di Giacomo worked for the company which manufactured one of the catheters promoted in the study at the time of publication, yet made “no declaration of conflict” within the article.

Representing the nurse, counsel Chris Green said: “There have been many concessions made by Mr Di Giacomo [in relation to the charges].

“He conceded inexperience led to inaccuracies [and] has admitted making multiple mistakes. He admits he was very seriously at fault.”

Mr Green went on to say the nurse, who trained in Italy, may have been guilty of “foolishness, naivity and negligence” but contested the second charge of dishonesty.

Barristers on behalf of the NMC, however, claimed Mr Di Giacomo “knew the article was not accurate or honest” at the time of publication.