An experiment on a volunteer in hospital was written up. The volunteer was an asthmatic who was stable at the time and given a combination of intravenous magnesium sulphate and salbutamol to observe the pharmacological effects. The drugs were given under supervision in intensive care as they carry some risk of cardiovascular side effects. The paper reports: "After discussion with colleagues, a volunteer was given the drugs to see what happened." There is no description of an informed consent procedure or ethics committee approval. Nor is there any report of arrangements made to cover the costs of the research, whether staff, bed use, drugs, use of equipment or arrangements for dealing with side effects.
This was clearly experimentation, but it was unclear whether this was done as part of emergency care. - The editor should write to the authors to ask them whether they obtained informed consent and ethics committee approval. - The editor should also write to the head of the institution to request an investigation.