Objective: A coalition conference of acute resuscitation researchers was held to discuss the feasibility of applying current federal research regulations regarding informed consent to the emergency setting. This article presents consensus recommendations for regulatory changes for consent in emergency research.
Participants: Representatives from the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine and the American Heart Association identified several professional organizations as stakeholders in this issue, including research, clinical, bioethics, legal, and patient advocacy groups. The Office for Protection From Research Risks (OPRR), the Food And Drug Administration (FDA), and staff from specific legislative offices were also invited to observe. Forty-three participants attended, including representatives from 12 professional organizations, five medical institutions, and the FDA and OPRR. This was a closed meeting. Participants were self-funded or sponsored by their professional organizations.
Evidence: Before the meeting, a draft of a position statement was developed by the conference organizers based on the current literature and discussions with experts in the field. This draft, copies of the current federal research regulations, and supporting articles were distributed before the conference.
Consensus process: Participants rotated through moderated discussion sessions to comment on subsections of the draft. Following discussion, a working draft was developed and distributed to each participant and represented organizational board for final review. All comments were considered in the final version of the document.
Conclusions: We believe there are circumstances when it is not feasible to obtain prospective or proxy consent for enrollment into an emergency research protocol. In these circumstances, patients are vulnerable, not only to research risks, but also to being denied potentially beneficial therapy when there is no known effective treatment for their life-threatening condition. We offer recommendations that should be met when the critical nature of the illness or injury or the need to apply an investigational therapy rapidly precludes prospective consent for participation in emergency research.