Cardiac arrest patients will be given an injection of a placebo, instead of the normal adrenaline, shot under a medical trial to be conducted later this year, reports [s]The Independent[/s]. Paramedics will be given randomised treatment packs and will not know whether they are injecting adrenalin or just a salt water solution. Announcements where the trial is due to take place will tell people what is happening and allow them to say in advance that they would not consent to taking part if they suffered a cardiac arrest.
The [b]Paramedic2 Adrenaline[/b] trial, led by researchers at [b]Warwick University[/b] has been approved by an ethics committee. Researchers say the trial is needed because of serious fears that adrenaline may cause severe brain damage while doing nothing at all to aid survival. They concede that since those suffering cardiac arrest usually lose consciousness within seconds, and because it might be difficult to check up on pre-registered refusal during the scramble to save someone’s life, confirming the consent of the trial participants could be difficult.
Writing in [s]The Telegraph[/s], Glasgow GP and writer on evidence-based medicine, Dr Margaret McCartney, argues that ‘nothing ethically questionable about proving what medicine actually works’. Informed consent was, rightly, the normal way of recruiting people for trials. ‘But if we accepted this as the only ethical way to do a trial, it would mean that no studies would ever get done on unconscious people.’