Transforming Patient Care and Medical Education through Collaborative Research and Scholarship


Clinical research is a cornerstone of modern medicine and a key to advancing patient care. Although the results of research are rewarding, taking a project from start to finish may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.  This program is intended as a resource to expedite the research process and to facilitate collaboration.

All research begins with a question. Our mission is to create transparency around the research process and guide researchers through the steps to ask the right questions, acquire useful data, and ultimately make an impact in patient care. Join one of our weekly meetings to discuss a project, browse our resource links, or read our how-to guide.  Whether you are a novice or a well-seasoned researcher just needing a sounding board, we want to help you reach your goals.

How To Start a New Project for Clinicians

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Team Members

The County EM Collaborative Research team is made up of diverse individuals with extensive backgrounds in medicine, education, and research. They are united by their dedication to improving the patient experience through clinical research.

Neeraj Chhabra, MD

Neeraj Chhabra, MD

Director of Collaborative Research

Errick Christina, MS

Errick Christina, MS

Clinical Research Coordinator

Lum Rizvanolli, BS

Lum Rizvanolli, BS

Academic Associate Program Director/Co-founder

John Bailitz, MD

John Bailitz, MD

Program Director at Northwestern/Co-founder



This program has been vital to completing my asthma project.  The research associates are eager and fun to work with.  They are gaining invaluable hands on experience in research and direct exposure to patients in the emergency department.

Joseph Palter, MD

Department of Emergency Medicine, John H Stroger Jr Hospital of Cook County

The research program has been invaluable to our work on studying the effects of language barriers and medical literacy on the care that we provide in the Emergency Department. Without the program, we would not be gathering valuable information that I know will have a huge impact on the quality of care that clinicians at our hospital are able to provide going forward. The work ethic displayed by the academic associates has never ceased to amaze me and cannot be praised highly enough.

Jason Murphy, MD

Department of Emergency Medicine, John H Stroger Jr Hospital of Cook County

Completed Projects

The Cook County Emergency Department team has engaged in a wide variety of projects. Take a closer look at the work we do and explore some of the research questions we have pursued.

Naloxone Access

Data show that distributing opioid antagonists like naloxone to at-risk populations is effective in reducing the number of deaths from opioid overdoses. However, it is unclear if some opioid users have more access to naloxone than others. Our goal was to evaluate whether naloxone awareness and access differs depending on the type of opioid used. Patients qualifying for the study were asked which opioids they currently use, history of intravenous heroin use, awareness of and access to naloxone, and previous experience using naloxone. Descriptive statistical analysis revealed that snorting heroin was the most common method of opioid abuse, but those who injected heroin had better naloxone awareness and access. Further studies are needed to elucidate this discrepancy so naloxone can be distributed more effectively to at-risk populations in the future.

Asthma Action Plan

Low acuity asthmatics frequently present to the Emergency Department (ED) due to reasons including a lack of an understanding of their disease process and inability to comply with in-home medical treatments. Asthma Actions Plans (AAPs) are a well-established intervention in the primary care setting that demonstrate an ability to improve asthma knowledge and adherence with outpatient treatment instructions.  We provided an educational module, AAPs to ED patients and evaluated changes in the knowledge regarding their asthma through one month and six month follow up phone calls.


Emergency Department (ED) providers routinely risk-stratify chest pain (CP) patients to identify those who can be safely discharged. The HEART score is a widely used clinical-decision making tool to identify low-risk CP patients based on their History of present illness, Electrocardiogram (ECG) findings, Age, Risk factors, and Troponin. There is little published data on the utility of the HEART score in the public hospital setting, which may have a higher proportion of patients with poorly managed chronic illnesses and less access to outpatient care. The goal of this study was to determine how utilization of the HEART score affects hospital admission rates for patients that present with CP to an urban public ED. We found that observation admissions rates reduced from 35% to 21%, which resulted in a 40% reduction in costs.

Health Literacy

Health literacy is an important determinant of patient outcomes in a healthcare setting. While screening modalities, such as the Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (STOFHLA), have been validated, they are time consuming to administer. The goal of the Heath Literacy Study was to identify an alternative screening question to replace the STOFHLA in an ED setting. Research assistants approached patients, asked the experimental screening questions, and then administered the STOFHLA. Statistical tests were performed to determine which of the screening questions impacted the STOFHLA score. Among the questions, “How often do you have someone help you read hospital materials?” was demonstrated to be the best proxy for rapidly recognizing low health literacy in patients.