Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Without Consent

Here we have another manifestation of The Nanny State. According to this story in the May 27, 2007 edition of the Washington Post, our government is about to embark upon a specialized program of providing medical care, whether you want it or not.

Excerpt from the article:

The federal government is undertaking the most ambitious set of studies ever mounted under a controversial arrangement that allows researchers to conduct some kinds of medical experiments without first getting patients' permission.

The $50 million, five-year project, which will involve more than 20,000 patients in 11 sites in the United States and Canada, is designed to improve treatment after car accidents, shootings, cardiac arrest and other emergencies.

The three studies, organizers say, offer an unprecedented opportunity to find better ways to resuscitate people whose hearts suddenly stop, to stabilize patients who go into shock and to minimize damage from head injuries. Because such patients are usually unconscious at a time when every minute counts, it is often impossible to get consent from them or their families, the organizers say.

The project has been endorsed by many trauma experts and some bioethicists. Others question it. The harshest critics say the research violates fundamental ethical principles.


The studies are being conducted by the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium, a network of medical centers that do research in Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Dallas, Birmingham, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Toronto and Ottawa, and in Iowa and British Columbia.


...[C]hildren as young as 15 might be included in the research....


Others are concerned patients may be getting experimental therapies that could turn out to be inferior to standard treatments.
Read the entire article here.

Certainly emergencies arise, and family members cannot always be reached before medical personnel begin treatment. But conducting taxpayer-funded, medical experiments as to effective treatment? Sounds like God-playing to me.

And who is going to pay for the failed experiments, for those outcomes in which a family is left to care for one severely compromised who might have been better treated by another method? What about "First, do no harm"?

Most veterinarians I know wouldn't conduct such experiments on pets. Rather, health-care specialists for animals go with the tried and true first, before trying an experimental or alternative method. Yet our government is funding experimentation on trauma cases who can't speak for themselves. Did we learn nothing from Tuskegee and the Willowbrook studies? Not quite the same, but close.

Additional reading: Famous Cases in Medical Ethics

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posted by Always On Watch @ 5/29/2007 06:15:00 AM