Informed consent is a basic principle of clinical research. Doctors are required to make sure that patients understand whatâ€™s involved with experimental treatments, and patients should only participate if they provide consent.
However, an important area of clinical research takes place outside of this general rule, because some life-threatening conditions â€“ seizures, traumatic brain injury and cardiac arrest, as examples — make it impossible for the patient to learn about a clinical trial and make a decision about whether to participate. The urgency of treatment can also mean that seeking proxy consent from a relative is impractical.
A recent editorial in USA Today highlights this area of research, called EFIC (exception from informed consent). The author, Katherine Chretien from George Washington University, cites research from Emory investigators Neal Dickert and Rebecca Pentz.