Rethinking consent processes for research in emergency departments

Rethinking consent processes for research in emergency departments
Perspective
Joseph Miller, Stephen Guy Costa,  David Alan Taylor, Paul Buntine
Emergency Medicine Australasia, 17 April 2021
Abstract
Emergency medicine researchers face the challenge of prioritising patients’ immediate interests and maintaining hospital flow while attempting to collect clinical data. Even in low‐risk scenarios, excessive consent processes can make it difficult to recruit patients while observing guidelines on efficient triage. We discuss a recent situation in which a six‐page consent form appeared to deter clinicians from recruiting patients to a low‐risk intervention. We then argue that there need be no conflict between the imperatives of patient wellbeing and clinical research. Apparent conflicts between treatment and research could be reduced through creative recruitment techniques: the adoption of an ‘opt‐out’ approach; securing the budget for a dedicated research assistant; early consultation with the institution’s human research ethics committee; and the use of a short, simple participant information and consent form with a QR code linking to a more detailed outline of the study.

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