Image of male nurse pushing senior woman in a wheelchair in nursing facility

Academic investigators at four locations are sending explanatory letters to over 1,300 nursing home residents who were placed in harm’s way during a study testing hip-protecting undergarments.

The letters, as mandated by federal regulators, detail how university investigators knowingly subjected residents to a higher risk for hip fractures. The study was investigating the efficacy of a type of undergarment that provides extra padding in the hip area to protect hips in a fall. This study looked specifically at undergarments that had padding on only one side of the garment, the Boston Globe reported. It became clear, as the study progressed, that participants began experiencing more falls caused by the garment, frequently landing on the protected side.

Despite detecting this trend, scientists failed to disclose this observation to the participants, safety boards and the federal agency that helped support the research. Participants were enrolled between 2002 and 2006. Scientists were required to inform all living participants, as well as next of kin and legal representatives for deceased participants.

Research sites were Harvard Medical School, Washington University School of Medicine, the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Hebrew SeniorLife.