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Experimental Medicine and Pioneering Patients - David Locke, Hill Dickinson LLP

19/07/17. There are undoubtedly terminally ill patients who wish to pursue non-standard treatments in the hope of finding an unexpected cure, and there are even patients who wish to altruistically volunteer to trial experimental medicines unrelated to their own condition, in order to derive meaning and purpose from a hopeless situation. In the medical professional there have always been doctors and surgeons who are willing to work with such patients to push beyond accepted practice and lead in the advancement of medical science. The question for the law is how to balance these competing interests, rights and duties.

The usefulness of the Bolam test as the mechanism for establishing the breach of a legal duty of care where a patient has been injured in such circumstances is debatable. A novel treatment may axiomatically be unsupported by a responsible body of contemporaneous medical opinion; therefore on strict application it must be negligent. There is a concern that...

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