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Crit Care. 2007;11(1):111; discussion 111.

Doing research on the ethics of doing research.

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  • 1Harvard Medical School, Department of Social Medicine, Division of Medical Ethics, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


In the previous issue of Critical Care Chenaud and colleagues found that most intensive care unit patients who had given informed consent for their participation in a clinical trial could not recall either the purpose of the trial or its related risks several days later. These findings should remind us that informed consent is a process, not an event, but they should not be interpreted to mean that recall is, of itself, a useful criterion for evaluating either the validity or the quality of the informed consent process. On an entirely separate note, the decision of the authors not to obtain informed consent for this study itself raises interesting questions about the ethics of doing research on the ethics of doing research.

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