Emergency medicine, also known as accident and emergency medicine, is the medical specialty concerned with caring for undifferentiated and unscheduled patients with illnesses or injuries requiring immediate medical attention. In their role as first-line providers, emergency physicians are responsible for initiating resuscitation and stabilization, starting investigations and interventions to diagnose and treat illnesses in the acute phase, coordinating care with specialists, and determining disposition regarding patients’ need for hospital admission, observation, or discharge. Emergency physicians generally practice in hospital emergency departments, pre-hospital settings via emergency medical services, and intensive care units, but may also work in primary care settings such as urgent care clinics.
Different models for emergency medicine exist internationally. In countries following the Anglo-American model, emergency medicine was originally the domain of surgeons, general practitioners, and other generalist physicians, but in recent decades it has become recognized as a speciality in its own right with its own training programs and academic posts, and the specialty is now a popular choice among medical students and newly qualified medical practitioners. By contrast, in countries following the Franco-German model, the speciality does not exist and emergency medical care is instead provided directly by anesthesiologists (for initial resuscitation), surgeons, specialists in internal medicine, or another speciality as appropriate. In developing countries, emergency medicine is still evolving and international emergency medicine programs offer hope of improving basic emergency care where resources are limited.