According to the NYT,Â the US army is carrying out randomised experiments on trauma treatments. Their rationale is that with a lot of soldiers dying in Iraq, it’s worth running experiments now to save lives in the future.Â
A similar ethical argument is often made to justify randomised policy trials: getting clear answers about what works in education and welfare policy has hugeÂ payoffs for policy design. Indeed, in an ANU/Canberra TimesÂ debate tonight, I’m going to try pitching the idea that the federal government should create a pot of money, specifically to fund states and territories to run randomised policy trials.
Update: It turns out that there’s similar stuff going on even closer to home. Commenter Mark alerts me to the Head Injury Retrieval Trial being run through NRMA CareFlight. From the NRMA CareFlight website:
How does HIRT work?Â
NRMA CareFlight identifies severe head injury patients by monitoring 000 calls. Patients are randomly assigned to either the current ambulance/paramedic system or NRMA CareFlight helicopter/specialist physician team. If the case is assigned to HIRT, a dedicated helicopter transports the NRMA CareFlight specialist physician team to the patient within 15 minutes of the 000 call. The HIRT team follows up on the progress, after six months, of those patients in both the treatment and standard care arms of the trial. Results are compared to determine whether providing head injury trauma treatment at the scene of an accident improves the recovery outcomes. The Trial will operate for three years during daylight hours. To achieve statistical validity, the Trial will involve about 510 unconscious patients, half of whom will be treated by HIRT and half of whom will be treated by standard care as currently provided by the Ambulance Service.