Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock
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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 488-493

The provision of critical care in emergency departments at Canada


1 Department of Emergency Medicine, Division of Critical Care Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia; Department of Anesthesia, Division of Critical Care Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia
2 Department of Emergency Medicine, Division of Critical Care Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Correspondence Address:
Robert S Green
Department of Emergency Medicine, Division of Critical Care Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia; Department of Anesthesia, Division of Critical Care Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0974-2700.86638

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Introduction : Critically ill patients are common in emergency medicine, and require expert care to maximize patient outcomes. However, little data is available on the provision of critical care in the ED. The goal of this study is to describe the management of critically ill patients in the ED via a survey of Canadian emergency physicians. Materials and Methods : A survey of attending physician members of CAEP was conducted by email. The survey was developed by the authors and internal validity was established prior to survey deployment. Data on physician demographics, hospital resources, use of invasive procedures, vasopressor/inotropic medications, length of stay in the ED and patient responsibility were assessed. Results : The survey response rate was 22.9%, with the majority of respondents possessing speciality training in EM (73.5%). Respondents indicated that critically ill patients were commonly managed in the ED, with 68.5% reporting >6 critically ill patients per month, and 12.4% indicating > 20 patients per month. Respondents indicated that the majority of critically ill patients remained in the ED for 1-4 hours (70%) after resuscitation, yet 18% remained in the ED for >5 hours. Patients with a "respiratory" etiology were the most common critically ill patient population reported, followed by "cardiovascular", "infectious" and "traumatic illness". Direct laryngoscopy was frequently performed (66.9%> 11 in the year prior to the survey) in the year prior to the survey, while other invasive procedures and vasopressor/inotropic medications were utilized less often. EM physicians were responsible for the management of critically ill patients in the ED, even after consultation to an inpatient service, and were often required to provided acute care to critically ill patients admitted to an ICU, yet remaining in the ED prior to transfer (20% reported > 50% of the time). Conclusion : Our survey demonstrates that critically ill patients are common in Canadian ED's, and that EMP's are often responsible to provide care for prolonged period of time. In addition, the use of invasive procedures other then direct laryngoscopy was variable. Further research is warranted to determine the impact of delayed transfer and ED physician management of critically ill patients in the ED.


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