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Experts aim to redefine healthcare and research ethics
Date:1/11/2013

are appropriately respected, our ethical framework directs research towards aggressive efforts to reduce or eliminate unfair inequalities in health outcomes and in the evidence base for clinical decision-making," notes Ruth R. Faden, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and lead author of the article outlining the framework. Among the examples of unfair inequalities the authors say should be addressed by obligation five is the scarcity of evidence for managing chronic illness in pregnant women, as compared to other adults with the same conditions. Women, and their children, would be well-served by a healthcare system that continually learns from patient care.

"The framework also challenges previous thinking in research and clinical ethics by calling for an ethical obligation on the part of clinicians, administrators, payors and purchasers to conduct research to improve health care quality and value, and on patients to contribute to such research," says Faden. The authors write, "Just as health professionals and organizations have an obligation to learn, patients have an obligation to contribute to, participate in, and otherwise facilitate learning," that will improve the quality of the healthcare system.

The authors emphasize, however, that this is not a blanket obligation, regardless of risk. Some kinds of medical research, such as early testing of drugs still unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration, are not included and should always proceed only with the express, voluntary informed consent of the patient, they say. The patient obligation is focused on research that poses no additional risk beyond what patients face in clinical care, and would also exclude research that compares different types of treatments, for example, surgery to medical management. The authors add that the framework also includes obligations to avoid imposing nonclinical risks and burdens on patients (4), and to protect their rights and int
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Contact: Leah Ramsay
lramsay@jhu.edu
202-642-9640
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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