The changing landscape of health care has resulted in an increase in the delivery of critical care in the emergency department. Although the emergency department duration is brief compared with the total length of hospitalization, physiologic determinants of outcome may be established before ICU admission. The care provided during the emergency department stay for critically ill patients has been shown to significantly impact the progression of organ failure and mortality. Despite these trends, formal critical care training for emergency physicians is limited. The need to maximize patient throughput in frequently overcrowded emergency departments hinders the provision of optimal care to the critically ill patient. Methodologies should be developed to examine the quality of patient care and objectively measure the impact of clinical interventions. The potential to improve outcome through educational initiatives and resource allocation should not be viewed as a burden of delivering a higher level of care in this setting but as a significant opportunity to effectively mitigate the socioeconomic consequences.
From: Critical care and emergency medicine. Curr Opin Crit Care. 2002 Dec;8(6):600-6.