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The Practice of Experimentation 

The Practice of Experimentation
Chapter:
The Practice of Experimentation
Source:
Medical Experimentation: Personal Integrity and Social Policy: New Edition
Author(s):

Charles Fried

, Franklin Miller

, and Alan Wertheimer

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190602727.003.0007

The ethical analysis and the display of the contradictions are finally brought to bear on the practice of experimentation. Several examples of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) are presented and analyzed. The concept of professional knowledge, which is distinguished from habitual practice and untested hunches, is introduced. Professional knowledge is increasingly scientifically validated knowledge. And so the careful practitioner may well hesitate between two hypotheses—this is the case of equipoise, which justifies randomized assignment. Even so, rights in experimentation (lucidity and the duty of candor, the patient’s autonomy, and the duty of fidelity to the patient) may interfere with rigorous, double-blind randomization. Alternatives to the RCT are considered, and the use of paid subjects is discussed.

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