Overcoming the Ethical and Operational Challenges in International Emergency Medicine Research

Medical research is fundamental for advancing the science of emergency medicine and informing the development of best practice patient management. Clinical research usually involves the active participation of patients and is associated with some patient time commitment, inconvenience, and possibly risk. Following a series of research atrocities, principles of human research ethics have been developed to mitigate this risk and to protect both researchers and research participants. These ethical principles relate to all medical research disciplines, including Emergency Medicine (EM).

However, the nature of EM and the Emergency Department (ED) setting present a number of barriers to the application of these principles and can make research in this area challenging. This document aims to describe these challenges, how they might impact the case of a hypothetical ED patient and to suggest guidance on how they might be addressed in order to provide best clinical research practice.

The development of EM, and research in the discipline, is expanding world-wide. Accordingly, this document is written from an international perspective, with particular focus on collaboration and global differences in research capacity, experience and resource.