placebo and ethics

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Posted by dougW ( on August 30, 2000 at 11:18:22:

In Reply to: Placebo test by Dr. attempting to ??? Beware!! posted by Mike L on August 30, 2000 at 09:10:51:

Mike....I understand your frustration at being "used" by these doctors. You appear rather calm after finding out what happened, I wouldn't have been as nice!

You are correct about the Placebo effect, it is real, it is expected in any study, and it can be a valuable tool to the doctor and the patient if it is unerstood and used properly.

The only way to evaluate the placebo effect is in a clinical trial / experiment, the control group who receives the placebo is "blinded" to their treatment, they don't know what they get, but are lead to believe the received the real thing.

The BIG difference is,in an experimental setting, the patients have agreed to be part of the study. They may not have been told much about what they may or may not receive, but they understand they are involved in a study to test something, and have signed a consent form. I doubt you signed such a form.

I would have to question the ethics of any doctor who would take a patient in extreme pain and administer a placebo. While the outcome of this test may have been of interest, this was likely the wrong time for him to do this.

In the end, your choices are:
-find a new doctor, not something we often like to do
-report these doctors to their college disciplinary board, you will get their attention then
-have a long talk with your doc. Make sure he understands the pain you are in, and the treatment you expect. Make it clear you don't want to play games anymore.

I suggest the latter. However, I like bob's idea about the placebo cheque!

Good luck
Doug W

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