Harvey V. Fineberg, MD


November 10, 2008


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How can your doctor know whether the course of treatment you will receive is the best for you?

One key factor is whether the alternatives have been thoroughly researched and tested. If you have an opportunity to participate in a clinical study, I hope you will consider it favorably.

As a participant in a study, you should know your rights:

  • You are entitled to access to all information about the study and its risks;

  • Your privacy is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability law, known by its acronym, HIPAA; and

  • You have the right to the very best care, regardless of the outcome of the study.


Of course, there is uncertainty in taking part in any study, but each one is critical to our efforts to learn more about the best kinds of care.

The Institute of Medicine's recent report, Knowing What Works in Health Care: A Roadmap for the Nation,[1] recommends that Congress set priorities for regular reviews on clinical effectiveness and help generate guidelines for more, and better, information for healthcare practitioners and patients. In order for these kinds of programs to be successful, we must have willing study participants.

By acting together -- as patients and healthcare providers -- and playing our parts in high-quality research, we can create a spectrum of evidence that illuminates which healthcare services are most effective.

With the facts in hand, you and your doctor will be better prepared to make important choices about your healthcare.

That's my opinion. I'm Dr. Harvey Fineberg, President of the Institute of Medicine.



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