Cover: Emergency Care

Emergency Care

Then, Now, and Next

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 32, no. 12, Dec. 2013, p. 2069-2074

Posted on Dec 1, 2013

by Arthur L. Kellermann, Renee Y. Hsia, Charlotte Yeh, Kristy Gonzalez Morganti

Five decades ago, hospitals staffed their emergency rooms with rotating community physicians or unsupervised hospital staff. Ambulance service was frequently provided by a local funeral home. Beginning in the late 1960s and accelerating thereafter, emergency care swiftly evolved into its current form. Today, modern emergency departments not only are capable of providing around-the-clock lifesaving care in individual emergencies and disasters. They also conduct timely diagnostic workups, provide access to after-hours acute care, and serve as the "safety net of the safety net" for millions of low-income and uninsured patients. But the field's success has led to a new set of challenges. To overcome them, emergency care must become more integrated, regionalized, prevention oriented, and innovative.

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