PATIENTS whose hearts stop could be given a dummy drug as part of a controversial trial.
South Central Ambulance Service, which serves this area, is one of five health trusts to take part in the trial, which will see people suffering from a cardiac arrest injected with a saline solution instead of adrenaline.
Neither the paramedic nor the patient will know which injection they are getting as it is a double-blind test.
Dr Martin Underwood, from the University of Warwick is leading the trial.
He said the aim was to determine whether adrenaline improves survival.
‘It’s possible adrenaline improves short-term survival but few patients leave hospital and it may be at the cost of neurological damage,’ he said.
‘It may be something that is custom and practice that is actually harming people.
‘There are sufficient grounds for concern that what we are doing at the moment is detrimental to people. We wouldn’t expect people would be put at unnecessary risk by this [trial].’
The university said advertising campaigns telling patients how to opt out if they want will run in areas where the trial is taking place.
But one paramedic from south east Hampshire said she has concerns.
She said: ‘It’s a grey area.
‘When someone goes into cardiac arrest we work very hard to get their heart started.
‘They are asking us to stop giving patients a drug we have always used.
‘Someone else has made this decision but we will be the ones carrying it out, which makes me feel morally uncomfortable.
‘I feel like I’m playing with people’s lives.’
Scas said it will carry out a small pilot at the end of this year, before rolling it out across the entire trust patch by Easter next year.
A spokesman said: ‘Trial planning is under way, but in advance of the scheduled start date, we have begun communicating with staff to outline the rationale behind the trial and provide a broad outline explaining the trial protocol.
‘The response from Scas paramedics has been enthusiastic and supportive of this important research, which aims to improve patient care.
‘We will continue to engage with staff throughout the planning stage of the trial, and nearer the start date, will provide staff with further education and training.
‘We will provide and support training to staff and reiterate the legal and ethical approvals we have in place to reassure them about the trial.
‘Individual support is available to staff who have questions or concerns regarding the trial. Those paramedics not wishing to participate in the trial are able to opt out.’
Opt-out should be available, says support group
THE head of a patient support group said that there should be a chance for patients to opt out of a medical trial due to start later this year.
Steve Taylor, manager of Healthwatch Hampshire, said: ‘We support a developing health system that provides the very best outcomes for patients.
‘These types of studies could benefit many patients in the future, but giving patients as much information as possible and letting them know how they can opt out of this would seem to be vital in making sure that the wishes and views of patients are truly taken into account.’