Monday, May 28, 2007

Studies: With or without the patient's consent....

First there came this article about trying new treatments on patients without their consent:

Not being in the medical or scientific fields, I didn't know what to think. Good, or bad? So I asked a friend who is an RN and who has worked in a VA hospital for her evaluation. And she wrote:

"What's not said through this whole article is that doctors are sworn, above all else, to 'first, do no harm.' You have to trust them on that. For the 'experiments' they're outlining, none is outlandish and none--save for the possible use of the PolyHeme--involves a foreign substance.
They're right that: We won't know until the results are in. The test have to start sometime. People are arriving at ERs every minute with no way to give consent.

If I were a patient, I'd far rather have a doc do what he thought would or could work than to stick by some older 'more proven' method just because it was protocol. Remember, people in medicine and hospitals are among the slowest to change of any profession. Think turning the Titanic in churning seas.

Though we have enough vets in Iraq to 'experiment' on and I'm sure some studies are being done on war victims, they're most often victims of concussive type injuries and not always the straight head-knocks of MVAs. As for the cardiac cases, most vets are young and in good shape. We need to look at the 50 year old farmer or the 65 year old jogger who presents in the ER with clammy skin, bad color and chest pain. Vets won't help us there. Neither will prisoners, our next most steady group of guinea pigs.

Bottom line, we won't know until we try. And I'd trust any team of medics or any ER involved in these studies to monitor and evaluate -- and to switch treatment if it looks like the patient's going south. I'd rather be part of these experiments than to die for lack of trying."

Now I'm satisfied.


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