Article first published online: 15 AUG 2013
© 2013 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine
Academic Emergency Medicine
Volume 20, Issue 8, page 856, August 2013
How to Cite
Offerman, S. R., Nishijima, D. K., Holmes, J. F. (2013), In Reply. Academic Emergency Medicine, 20: 856. doi: 10.1111/acem.12187
- Issue published online: 15 AUG 2013
- Article first published online: 15 AUG 2013
We appreciate the comments made by Dr. Platz-Mills and Mr. Keil regarding our recent study evaluating the use of delayed telephone consent in emergency medicine research and the recognition of our high rate of successful telephone follow-up. Several specific factors likely contribute to our success. Our team made up to six telephone attempts for enrolled patients, which is more than other studies with less success.[2, 3] In addition, the majority of our enrolled patients were elderly (mean ± SD age = 75.8 ± 12.2 years). Elderly patients are inherently more stable geographically and potentially easier to contact as many are retired. It is noteworthy that the telephone follow-up rate for elderly patients (65 years and older) in the study by Dr. Platz-Mills was actually 100%. We recognize, however, that our follow-up rate may not be generalizable to other populations.
In their letter, Dr. Platz-Mills and Mr. Keil, however, misinterpreted a portion of our methodology. Dr. Platz-Mills and Mr. Keil state, “When we used similar methods to that of Offerman et al. (i.e., making calls to patients using information from the ED record), only about 50% of patients or surrogates were contacted.” We explicitly state in the original manuscript that “Eligible patients were identified by on-duty emergency physicians who completed standardized data collection forms. Data collected from the index ED visit included patient demographics and clinical information.” During this process, the patient's telephone number was collected, and we recommend specifically collecting follow-up telephone numbers during the ED visit.
We agree with Dr. Platz-Mills and Mr. Keil that the use of a delayed consent format is not ethical or practical for a small subset of observational studies. For studies addressing sensitive subjects (sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse, etc.), in-person ED consent is likely more appropriate. Such determination is up to the investigators and their local institutional review board. However, for most observational, minimal-risk studies, delayed telephone consent is ethical, feasible, and recommended.
- 2The consent and prescription compliance (COPRECO) study: does obtaining consent in the emergency department affect study results in a telephone follow-up study of medication compliance? Acad Emerg Med. 2008;15:932–8., , , , .