So that’s what the IRB is for

I spent most of today editing and tweaking three institutional review board (IRB) new project applications today. If you are not familiar with the loveliness that is the IRB process, it is a bureaucratic pile of red tape and paperwork that you have to navigate through in order to do research at an institution.

I decided to break away from my computer and help S, my eleven year old, with his science fair project. He is going to a science magnet program next year, and supposedly loves science. But, I was disappointed with his proposal – something about stretching chewing gum after chewing it – and came up with a physiology project idea for him. I suggested that he get some friends together, take their resting heart rates, then compare it to their heart rates after various different activities. He and his friends had fun learning how to take their pulses, and then walking three mailboxes down and back, taking it again, then running three mailboxes down and back, then taking it again. We decided to do a bike ride, too.

I am usually really strict about bikes. I don’t let the kids in the neighborhood jump on each others’ bikes, and am a stickler for helmets. But, it didn’t even cross my mind. I thought briefly how maybe I should get permission from their parents, but these kids play football in the street and climb trees every day. I thought running and riding a bike back and forth a few hundred feet, activities they do every afternoon, wouldn’t be a big deal.

Until one of the kids wiped out on the bike, and banged his head on the pavement pretty hard. I ran inside, told my husband to call 911, and called his mom right away.

Well, I went with them to the hospital. The CT scan was negative, but he has a pretty nasty knot on his head. And, he has a broken wrist. Argh. I feel terrible.

I think I’m sticking with surveys.


Filed under Uncategorized

5 responses to “So that’s what the IRB is for

  1. Oh nooo! Poor kid. Boys play rough. I once had a neighborhood kid throw a stick in the spokes of my bike wheel – I crashed to the ground and got the nastiest road burn on my arm (scar is still visible!)

    Ugh I loathe the IRB! I had to go through that for my honors thesis before I could do my fieldwork. They frustrated me to no end… I didn’t get my paperwork OKing it until 2 days before I was leaving the country! yeesh!

  2. I used to write (and teach other people how to write) those things for a living. Lemme just say, it’s almost impossible to get an IRB for research with children without a butt load of funding, even if it is just a survey. I used to advise my attendings to just back away from the research on the children… lol.

    If I was the parent of one of your son’s friends, and you called to ask for my permission to measure his pulse after he rode a bike a few hundred yards up and down the street… I’d be all, “Um… ok.” And think you were a little nuts for asking for my permission. And if my kid got hurt doing same if you didn’t ask permission, I’d be all, “Um, yep. That’s my kid.” Lol. Please don’t feel bad. đŸ™‚

  3. MomTFH

    Thanks. His mom was wonderful about it, and even bought me some dinner after I spent the evening in the ER with them.

    I try to think it was bound to happen to one of the kids soon, anyway, regardless of this experiment, but I did specifically tell him to ride the bike, and didn’t give him a helmet to wear. Ugh.

  4. I hate it when kids get hurt on my watch, even though kids get hurt all the time and it’s part of childhood.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s