Making risk-benefit assessments of medical research protocols

J Law Med Ethics. Summer 2004;32(2):338-48, 192. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-720x.2004.tb00480.x.


It is commonly assumed that medical experiments are ethical only if they have favorable "risk-benefit ratios". In this paper it is argued that "risk-benefit ratios" often cannot be calculated, even roughly; and that even if they could, ethical experiments don't need to have favorable "risk-benefit ratios". In addition, a new method of assessing an experiment's risk and benefits is proposed-a method grounded in the principles of liberal government.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / ethics*
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Decision Making / ethics
  • Ethics Committees, Research / ethics*
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Ethics, Research*
  • Human Experimentation / ethics
  • Humans
  • Research Subjects / psychology
  • Risk Assessment / ethics*