Lack of medical staff in public emergency departments is in many ways a
global phenomenon, so why should Hong Kong’s public emergency
departments be singled out for special attention? Anyone who circuits
the globe from country to conference and back will hear many similar
stories of a critical shortage of emergency trainees and physicians.
It’s a familiar story: after getting selected and working through
thousands of hours of lectures, training, and evaluations, I was told I
was ready. Yet after all that, when I heard the first code of my career,
my mind went blank, my heart took off, anxiety took over and I was left
scared and overwhelmed.
A 56 year old Russian speaking male (limited English capability)
presents to the emergency department via EMS with the chief complaint of
generalized abdominal pain. In triage he is noted to be rubbing his
stomach and touching his lower back. He indicates that this has been
bothering him for the past two hours. He is noted to be verbal in triage
but appears confused and is moaning in discomfort.
No one can deny the aging of our population in general, and of the
emergency department patient load in particular. But there is some
disagreement about how EDs should respond – specifically whether it is
appropriate to design geriatric emergency departments.
According to the Rand Report, the ED routinely makes the most important decision for hospital survival – whether or not to admit. The next question is what the healthcare system will do with that information.
The numbers don’t lie. The emergency department (ED) is the front door
to the hospital for the sickest patients, and those that need inpatient
service. The 2012 survey results of the Emergency Department
Benchmarking Alliance (EDBA) – which compiled data from about 1,000 EDs
comprising over 38 million patients – indicate that over 68% of hospital
admissions are processed through the ED.
A 25-year-old woman presents to the emergency department having
syncopized in the waiting room, where she was triaged with the chief
complaint of abdominal pain. Ectopic pregnancy immediately bubbles to
the top of your differential diagnosis.
It is a busy Friday evening in the emergency department when you get
called to the resuscitation bay for a 14-year-old female who was the
restrained back seat passenger in a rollover motor vehicle crash. After a thorough initial inspection you find that the patient has a
large laceration to the lateral side of her left ankle, and swelling
that suggests either a fracture or a severe sprain or dislocation.
I believe that every physician, nurse, PA, NP, tech and clerk who works
in an ED should periodically have an organ removed. We have lots of
organs that will only get us into trouble, so let’s remove them before
that happens. Hey, we don’t need that appendix or gall bladder, and the
ladies can get rid of that bothersome uterus once they hit the
When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed
into law on March 23, 2010, the year 2014 seemed a long way off. Now
that we are on the down side of 2013, the “big” changes of the ACA are
fast approaching. Some are good, some are bad, and some are just plain