I am an Emergency Physician, residency trained to save lives quickly, economically and compassionately. Recently, I read a mildly derrogatory post about the “meet-em and street’em” attitude of Emergency Physicians, and it spurs me to comment about the realities of Emergency Medicine.
Yes, there are cases which require only a brief history and physicial examination, allowing a focused evaluation and treatment, appropriate for the complaint. The majority of my practice is not that patient, it’s the 92 year old I had today who fell and broke a hip, who is also hypotensive and has an altered mental status. He needs a quick and comprehensive workup, taking into account all his infirmities and illnesses. While at the same time caring for the 70ish lady who came in for her ankle fracture but is hypotensive from her adrenal crisis (no kidding). How about my ED partners’ case, the hemophiliac with HIV, now with fever, headache, and thrush. Yeah, there’s a meet and street.
So, we all need each other in this big medical treatment complex. Yes, ED care is sometimes impersonal, but that’s because it’s brief and intense, not because we aren’t people.