Emergency Medicine

How Emergency Medicine Helps

Emergency Medicine is a medical speciality—a field of practice based on the knowledge and skills required to prevent, diagnose, and manage acute and urgent aspects of illness and injury affecting patients of all age groups with a full spectrum of undifferentiated physical and behavioural disorders. It further encompasses an understanding of the development of pre-hospital and in-hospital emergency medical systems and the skills necessary for this development.
 The field of emergency medicine encompasses care involving the acute care of internal medical and surgical conditions. In many modern emergency departments, emergency physicians see many patients, treating their illnesses and arranging for disposition—either admitting them to the hospital or releasing them after treatment as necessary. They also provide episodic primary care to patients during off-hours and those who do not have primary care providers. Most patients present to emergency departments with low-acuity conditions (such as minor injuries or exacerbations of chronic disease), but a small proportion will be critically ill or injured.
Therefore, the emergency physician requires broad knowledge and procedural skills, often including surgical procedures, trauma resuscitation, advanced cardiac life support and advanced airway management.
They must have some of the core skills from many medical specialities—the ability to resuscitate a patient (intensive care medicine), manage a difficult airway (anesthesiology), suture a complex laceration (plastic surgery), set a fractured bone or dislocated joint (orthopaedic surgery), treat a heart attack (cardiology), manage strokes (neurology), work-up a pregnant patient with vaginal bleeding (obstetrics and gynaecology), control a patient with mania (psychiatry), stop a severe nosebleed (otolaryngology), place a chest tube (cardiothoracic surgery), and conduct and interpret x-rays and ultrasounds (radiology). This generalist approach can obviate barrier-to-care issues seen in systems without specialists in emergency medicine, where patients requiring immediate attention are instead managed from the outset by speciality doctors such as surgeons or internal physicians. However, this may lead to barriers through acute and critical care specialities disconnecting from emergency care.