Therapeutic Hypothermia Study Heats Up Ethical Concerns
the MPR take:
A clinical trial at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has received a chilly reception from some medical ethicists regarding the induction of hypothermia in patients with catastrophic severe trauma and cardiac arrest to slow the metabolism and grant the doctors additional time to treat the patient. While surgeons usually have less than five minutes to restore blood flow to the brain before damage occurs at normal body temperatures, flushing the circulatory system with a cold saline solution to lower the temperature to 50 degrees Fahrenheit can give the surgeons up to one hour before brain damage can occur. Because it is an “involuntary enrollment” study, the hospital is distributing free bracelets to be worn by those who wish to opt-out if they find themselves in the ER.
PITTSBURGH — Trauma patients arriving at an emergency room here following a gunshot or knife wound may find themselves enrolled in a startling medical experiment. Surgeons will drain their blood and replace it with freezing salt water. Indeed, the medical center has been providing free bracelets to be worn by skittish citizens here who do not want to participate should they somehow wind up in the E.R. “This is ‘Star Wars' stuff,” said Dr.
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