Clinical Trials

Understanding Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are strictly controlled human studies of new and emerging therapies. At Hospital for Special Surgery, these trials incorporate state-of-the-art patient care, while carefully evaluating how best to apply the most recent innovations in orthopedics and rheumatology.

The safety of study participants is our top priority. Clinical trials at Hospital for Special Surgery are first reviewed by a Clinical (Scientific) Review Panel of specialists before being reviewed and approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB), which includes doctors, administrators, ethicists, and members of the general public. The IRB provides continuing surveillance of the trial as well as periodic review of study results. Before a treatment can be tested in people, it must be shown to be safe and effective in laboratory and animal studies. Volunteers who agree to participate are fully informed of possible study risks and benefits and sign a consent form before being accepted into a clinical trial. HSS Clinical Trials are described in the Clinical Trial Registry.

The safety and effectiveness of clinical trials are reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and HSS Clinical Trials are posted on the FDA web site. The FDA determines if and when a clinical trial provides evidence that the treatment under study offers improvements in care that can be made available to all patients with a particular condition.

Know Your Rights

Before enrolling in a clinical trial, you will undergo the informed consent process. At this time, the investigator will explain the purpose of the trial, its expected benefits, any possible risks or side effects, and what your role will be. This is the time to ask questions! If you want to join the trial, you must sign the informed consent documents. You can leave a clinical trial at any time without penalty.

Learn more about the critical role of the HSS Institutional Review Board in protecting people who volunteer to participate in clinical trials. provides regularly updated information about federally and privately supported clinical research in human volunteers. gives you information about a trial's purpose, who may participate, locations, and phone numbers for more details.