Medical Research Programs

People who live in large cities that are home to universities may be used to getting their care at major teaching hospitals.

­These hospitals often conduct research on the potential benefits of promising treatments, and patients may be asked if they wish to participate. These treatment protocols are funded by federal or state government programs, pharmaceutical companies, or medical device manufacturers.

Medical research is conducted under a set of professional and ethical standards. No patient is the subject of experimental treatments without their consent. Should a patient desire to participate in a medical research study, he or she will be informed of the potential benefits and side effects. They will also learn the format of the study, usually a double-blind protocol, in which some patients will receive the treatment being studied, while others are administered a placebo. Neither the patient nor the attending physician is aware of which randomized treatment the patient will receive. This ensures neutral, statistical results to prove the efficacy of the treatment in question.

There is, of course, the chance that the patient will receive a placebo that will have no effect on their medical condition. Likewise, the effects of the active treatment have not been proven, or may be unknown, and, hence, ineffective. The results, however, will be collated, and they may lead to breakthroughs that will cure a patient’s disease in the future, for others who suffer from the same condition.

Even in remote, rural areas, medical research is conducted in order to reach a wide statistical base. This most often occurs in drug studies. Primary care providers, and other physicians, are often contracted by pharmaceutical companies or medical device manufacturers to test products that show promise in treating disease. By the time product development has reached the stage of testing on human patients, the treatments in question have already been extensively tested in laboratories, and on animal subjects. It's also a long way until a new medicine find his way to a official drugstore. Potentially dangerous treatments are eliminated from further study before human lives become the medium to advance medical knowledge.

While medical research programs may not provide direct benefits, many people participate in them for the potential future benefits their participation may reveal. Some studies may offer financial compensation for participation. Others offer no more than the chance to help fellow humanity. The process involves an initial interview, during which a researcher, or his or her representative, will determine if the patient is an appropriate candidate for the project. The experimental protocol will be explained. This includes the need for regular follow-up appointments, and, probably, laboratory tests to monitor progress and effects. Once both researcher and patient agree on the established criteria and protocol, treatment progresses little differently than it would in any other setting.­


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