Patients asked to consent to experimental brain injury treatment


The public in Tennessee and the rest of the country are becoming more aware of the dangers of traumatic brain injury, largely thanks to a growing national discussion about traumatic brain injury in sports. The medical community has been studying brain injuries for generations, but these conditions are still exceedingly difficult to treat. The fact is that the brain doesn't heal the way other parts of the body do, and so these injuries often lead to long-term or permanent disability.

One factor holding back research on treatment for brain injury is the issue of informed consent. Patients in Tennessee generally must give their informed consent before doctors may conduct experimental treatments on them. This means the doctor must explain the procedure and its potential risks and the patient must agree before the doctor can proceed. However, if the patient has suffered a serious head injury that could cause a brain injury, the patient may be too incapacitated to consent. As a result, many researchers can't experiment with techniques they'd like to try.

In a new study, researchers want to test if the female hormone progesterone can minimize the damage caused by brain swelling. However, they believe the treatment will work best if administered soon after the injury. Of course, soon after a head injury patients are often unconscious, or even in a coma, and so they cannot consent. And so, researchers are asking people at high risk of head injury, such as athletes and arborists, to effectively opt out of the requirement for informed consent. It could be that the people signing up for the program never actually receive the injuries or the treatment but if they are injured and receive the treatment, it could lead to valuable research -- perhaps even a better result for the patients themselves.

One can only hope that this study or others like it will one day lead to a breakthrough in treating brain injuries. Until that day comes, Tennessee residents who have suffered traumatic brain injury are left with extreme medical expenses, long-term rehabilitation costs, lost wages and other damages. When these damages are the result of an injury caused by someone else's negligence, the family may be compensated through a personal injury lawsuit.

Source: Providence Journal, "Brain injury study tries to balance ethics, research," Felice J. Freyer, Aug.3, 2013

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Bart Durham Injury Law

You Deserve To Be Paid For What You've Gone Through

Our attorneys have more than 75 years of experience helping people like you.

Results For Our Clients

  • $3 Million Settlement - Passenger Hit By A Drunk Driver
  • $1 Million Judgment - Passenger Hit By A Drunk Driver
  • $1,450,000 Settlement - Passenger Hit By A Truck
More Client Results

Testimonials

  • "All of the staff members at Bart Durham Injury Law are very friendly and great to work with. They have open lines of communication with their clients, and respond in a timely manner. I trust them with my legal matters, and would advise anyone else in need of a lawyer to contact them first." - Julia Batson
  • "Bart Durham has a great team of people who are quick to respond and quick to help. The first time I met with them, they were kind and welcoming, and really listened to what I had to say. After my accident, I wasn't sure what to do, or how to get started. They took me through the process step by step, and got me the help I needed to continue on with my life. This is a friendly team with a dedication to helping people, and I'm so thankful for them!!" - Kara Davidson
More Testimonials