EMERGENCY MEDICINE is a field of medicine specializing in the treatment of acutely ill and injured people, including both children and adults. The training of an Emergency Medicine physician ( “ER doctor”) is complex and typically lasts three to four years. Some physicians then complete advanced fellowship programs in Critical Care, Emergency Ultrasound, Disaster Medicine, Wilderness Medicine, Hyperbaric Medicine, Toxicology, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, and Sports Medicine. Emergency Medicine doctors work in emergency departments, freestanding ERs, and urgent care (minor care or “fast-track”) settings. They also serve as Flight Physicians and Medical Directors for aeromedical transport systems.
Emergency Medicine physicians treat many life-threatening medical conditions such as myocardial infarction (heart attack), respiratory failure, pulmonary embolism, and cerebrovascular accident (stroke). They also treat traumatic injuries such as motor vehicle accidents, falls, fractures, gunshot wounds, and lacerations. Other common medical conditions include pneumonia, cellulitis, abscesses, appendicitis, diverticulitis, and mesenteric ischemia.
Litigation in Emergency Medicine often involves allegations of missed or delayed diagnoses of life-threatening conditions. Other common areas of litigation include mismanagement of acute illness and inappropriate discharge from the emergency department. Additionally, many complex procedures (e.g. lacerations, central lines, endotracheal intubation) are performed in the Emergency Department such that complications arising from these procedures may lead to claims of negligence.