The “Medical Innovation Bill” could radically change the way doctors make treatment decisions in the UK. Lord Saatchi, in response to the death of his wife from cancer, seeks to change the law to allow doctors to use experimental treatments, a concept that challenges evolved standards of practice. This Private Members Bill, which will be discussed at committee stage in the UK House of Lords on Friday, provoked ongoing discussions among leading doctors highlighting the tension between evidence based medicine and innovative clinical practice.
Medicine has made many mistakes in the past, some of which are listed in the website of the James Lind Library, the brainchild of Iain Chalmers, champion of the randomised controlled trial. While they recognise that doctors have always done their best, patients have been harmed because doctors didn’t have reliable knowledge on the effectiveness of treatment. As scientists, we recognise the need to make decisions based on the best evidence available and, equally important, to identify the harms. But, emotion is a powerful motivation ...continue reading