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Boston brain injury patients to be treated without consent?

Serious brain injuries require immediate medical treatment. If such treatment is not provided, the patient's condition could rapidly deteriorate. Many patients that suffer these types of injuries are unable to consent to the procedures that doctors need to perform in emergency situations, meaning that family members are often called upon to allow the doctors to complete the necessary tasks.

In some situations, doctors may feel that certain patients would benefit from medical procedures that are a part of experimental trials. If consent is not obtained, these patients will be excluded from being treated with these methods. A group of doctors in Boston has requested the power to use experimental treatments on those who have suffered brain injuries without needing to obtain the prior consent of the patient. 

The treatment is designed to slow what researchers often call the "secondary cascade" that many of these victims experience. This is the situation that arises due to swelling or changes within the brain that cause cells to continue to die after the initial injury has happened. Doctors hope that by injecting these patients with certain hormones, they can prevent brain injuries from becoming worse.

Critics of this proposal feel that patients or their families should have the option of participating in this study. By moving forward without consent, physicians are placing these patients at risk if the treatments do not work out. Scientists are still uncertain that the effect that the hormone will have on the injuries being experienced.

Brain injuries will often result in expensive rehabilitation, which could lead to life-long care being necessary. Those who have suffered these injuries due to the negligence of another may be eligible for compensation to help deal with these expenses. Individuals with questions about their situation may wish to discuss their potential claims with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Hospital wants to test drug with no consent," Chelsea Conaboy, June 8, 2013. 

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