Patients and families should take notes or record conversations for later review. They should ask about financial compensation for participation. Many patients in COVID-19 trials are paid modest amounts for their time and travel.
And they should think about how any treatment fits into their larger system of values and goals, said Angie Fagerlin, a professor and the chair of the population health sciences department at the University of Utah.
"What are the pros and what are the cons?" Fagerlin said. "Where would your decision regret be: Not doing something and getting sicker? Or doing something and having a really negative reaction?"
One consideration may be the benefit to the wider society, not just yourself, she said. For Mutter, helping advance science was a big reason he agreed to enroll in the Regeneron trial.
"The main thing that made me interested in it was in order for therapeutics to move forward, they need people," he said. "At a time when there's so much we can't control, this would be a way to come up with some kind of a solution."
That decision led him to Fred Hutch, which is collaborating on two Regeneron trials, one for prevention of COVID-19 and one for treatment of the disease.
"It was a six-hour visit," he said. "It's two hours to get the infusion. It's a very slow IV drip."
Mutter was the second person enrolled in the treatment trial at Fred Hutch, said Dr. Shelly Karuna, a co-principal investigator. The study is testing high and low doses of the monoclonal antibody cocktail against a placebo.
"I am struck by the profound altruism of the people we are screening," she said.
Mutter isn't sure how he contracted COVID-19. He and his family have been careful about masks and social distancing - and critical of others who weren't.