Quality Improvement Ethics: Lessons From the SUPPORT Study

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Benjamin S. Wilfond

Tag(s): Journal article


The Office of Human Research Protections was not justified in issuing findings against the SUPPORT Institutions. Our community can learn from the evolving healthcare transformation into learning health systems by thinking about the novel ethical issues about standard of care research raised by the SUPPORT with the same spirit of quality improvement. The current regulatory framework and the concept of foreseeable research risks is insufficient to advance the debate about the ethics of randomization of standard clinical interventions. This article uses the example of the Wisconsin cystic fibrosis randomized clinical trial for newborn screening trial to explore the distinctions between risks of research and clinical care and waivers of informed consent for randomization. Collaborative exploration of these complex policy issues is needed and further deliberation, community engagement, and social science research will be critical to advance novel approaches for informed consent.

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