Conducting Research in the ED

The emergency department (ED) is the central point for patients to access emergency care and for UW faculty members, whether they be in the Department of Emergency Medicine (DEM) or other departments, to conduct research.  The DEM recognizes the unique position of the ED in advancing science and is fully committed to supporting integrative, multi-disciplinary research.

To support the highest quality research in the ED, while also ensuring the safety of our patients, the safety of the clinical and research staff, and the efficiency of the clinical operations, we have created infrastructure to support the research and processes that must be followed before initiating the research.

All faculty and trainees in the DEM who wish to submit a research study for IRB review, as well as other researchers who wish to enroll ED patients or perform research activities within the ED at any UW hospital must have the study approved by the Emergency Medicine Research Committee (EMRC). For studies led by researchers outside the DEM, we strongly encourage engaging a DEM faculty member as an investigator.  In most cases, the EMRC will require a DEM faculty member to be an investigator.

The mission of the EMRC is to assess the scientific merit of the research projects and the feasibility of implementing the study in the ED, and support researchers to improve proposed studies.  The EMRC also ensures that the studies do not pose excessive subject burden, conflict with existing studies, interfere with patient care, impede departmental operations, or place patients, visitors, or staff at risk.  The EMRC approval process is not meant to be a barrier to research.  The committee meets twice a month, with more frequent meetings scheduled if needed.

How to Obtain Initial Approval for a Research Study

Prior to submitting a study for IRB review, all investigators must complete the steps below:

  1. Contact the EMRC by phone (608) 263-6690 or to schedule a time to present the protocol to the EMRC. The presentation should be made by a faculty member who can engage in a discussion regarding the study.
  2. Complete the Study Feasibility Survey and submit to the EMRC in advance of the meeting (by the Friday before the EMRC meeting at which the protocol will be presented), along with the IRB protocol and EMRC initial cover page. This information will be distributed to EMRC members. EMRC meetings occur on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month. This survey is being implemented due to a requirement from the SMPH. Each department needs to sign off on all IRB submissions, and this survey needs to be completed in order to ensure department sign off.
  3. Attend the meeting to briefly present the protocol and engage in a discussion regarding the study. This presentation should include:
    • The purpose
    • The timeline
    • The research methods including the study population, eligibility criteria, and recruitment
      objectives (N= __)
    • ED resources needed
    • Impact on ED operations
    • Funding for research activities
    • Funding for IRB review
  4. The EMRC will either approve the study or request changes. If approved, a letter will be provided to the study team.  This letter must be submitted with the IRB application.

A well-structured protocol helps the EMRC efficiently review the study, the IRB efficiently review the study, and the research team ensure reliable and rigorous methods.  The UW Health Sciences IRB has guidance for investigators within the “New Investigators Guide”.  Alternatively, the EMRC has a protocol template that can be used for this purpose.

How to Obtain Re-approval for a Research Study

Prior to submitting the continuing review to the IRB review, all investigators must complete the steps below:  

  1. Contact the EMRC (608) 263-6690 or to request re-approval.  
  2. Submit the EMRC re-approval form with any needed supporting information

Research Resources

Helpful Links

Emergency Department Research Coordinator Program

The ED Research Coordinator (EDRC) Program is a resource for researchers who wish to efficiently and effectively recruit subjects in the ED.

For more information contact the EDRC Program Supervisor, Rebecca Schwei, MPH at or email Dr. Manish N. Shah, Vice Chair of Emergency Medicine Research at