Each year, one in five of the population attends an Emergency Department in the UK. They present with a wide range of emergency conditions, ranging from the ‘walking wounded’ right through to the most seriously ill or injured who require resuscitation. Their presentation is unexpected and often without warning.
Emergency Medicine has been developed as a specialty within the last 30 years. As such it is young and dynamic and continues to expand both in numbers of doctors and in continuing developments of service.
Whilst all departments will provide a core service for the patients who attend, some may have an extended role, for example, running observation wards, follow up clinics and occasionally hospital based ‘flying squads’. The Emergency Department must be considered to sit between the population at large and the inpatient facilities of the hospital. It is often used as the ‘shop window’ of the hospital.
There are close working links between general practitioners, the local ambulance service, inpatient hospital specialties and the Emergency Department.
With the great number of patients attending the department, close working between doctors and nurses is essential and opportunities for teamwork abound.
Emergency Medicine is new, it is exciting and it is an expanding specialty.
It is the only hospital based specialty where a complete spectrum of illnesses and injuries are managed. Emergency Medicine doctors are generalists, in the broadest sense of the term, who specialise in resuscitation. A number also develop their own sub-specialty interests.
Due to the unpredictability of the workload and the immediacy of presentation of the cases, it is a specialty which attracts those who enjoy immediate decision making.
In addition, there is a high administrative workload in representing the department which results in an opportunity to mix both organisation of the service with the clinical application.