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.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.
Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/research-integrity.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.