12 September 2023
The Emergency Medicine Day campaign for 2024 will be dedicated to the impact of climate change on Emergency Medicine. The compelling testimonies from colleagues and patients have made clear to us that we must take action and ensure that this issue is brought to the attention of everyone.
Climate change is humanity's biggest health threat currently, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). “Climate change is impacting people’s health in a myriad of ways, including: Leading to death and illness from increasingly frequent extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, storms and floods, disruption of food systems, an increase in zoonoses and food-, water- and vector-borne diseases, and mental health issues.
This model provides a forecast of extreme heat days for the next 15 years (developed by Carbon Plan in collaboration with the Washington Post).
In addition, climate change is compromising various crucial aspects that directly impact our well-being, including livelihoods, equal opportunities, accessibility to quality healthcare and social support systems. These climate-sensitive health risks are disproportionately felt by the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, including women, children, poor communities, migrants or displaced persons, older populations, and those with underlying health conditions.”
There is enough data to anticipate that extreme heat is leading to a global increase in mortality rate, and it will continue to exert immense pressure on our healthcare systems, particularly on emergency care services. We are witnessing a progressive increase in heatstroke, heart and kidney damage, new and unexpected infectious diseases like zoonosis, water borne diseases, vector borne diseases, smoke-related pulmonary diseases secondary to wildfires, malnutrition-related disease due to droughts, injuries caused by floods and hurricanes. Not less important are the implications for mental health.
All these factors will place a growing burden on EM systems worldwide, and present them with new and daunting challenges.
As healthcare professionals, we have a vital responsibility to alleviate suffering and reduce the adverse effects of climate change on people's health.
Therefore, the EM day campaign for 2024 will focus on these main goals:
We will seek answers to the following questions:
You are all invited to join this campaign and take action!
27 June 2023
25 May 2023
Emergency departments (EDs) are currently unsafe places for both professionals and patients, according to the results of an international survey carried out for the European Society of Emergency Medicine (EUSEM) and published today (26th May) in the European Journal of Emergency Medicine1. The main reasons for this are staff shortages and overcrowding due to the non-availability of beds in wards necessitating the provision of care in corridors. Respondents to the survey also felt that they had insufficient support from hospital management. Read more
Around 90% of professionals surveyed felt that at times the number of patients in ED exceeded the capacity of the department to provide safe care, and that such overcrowding was a regular problem. In addition to causing patient and professional discomfort and impeding their ability to provide care, overcrowding is known to carry a substantial risk of harm and increased mortality.
The preliminary findings of a survey among patients, yet to be published, were even more alarming. More patients thought that ED staff were ‘angry’ or ‘rude’ than were kind. This is likely to be caused by exhaustion and frustration, says an accompanying editorial2 from EUSEM President Dr James Connolly ‘given that the vast majority of those responding to the survey of professionals said that they were proud to work in an ED.’ Amongst responses received a typical response was “There were a lot of patients and very few doctors. Some nurses were very stressed.”
Indeed, nurses who responded to the survey felt less safe than did doctors, particularly with regards to the environment in which they had to treat patients with mental health problems. Since in general they work with patients for longer periods of time, this is understandable, but nonetheless troubling, say the researchers.
“Last year’s EUSEM survey into burnout among ED professionals was worrying enough,” says Dr Connolly, “showing as it did that younger and less experienced EM professionals were more likely to be affected than older, more experienced staff. It is very disquieting to see this pattern repeated, and completely unacceptable that so little action has been taken to remedy it. If anything, the situation appears to be worse than before.” This is especially important, as In many EDs the majority of professionals are still junior and therefore at greater risk of burnout, and so in greater need of supervision to protect both themselves and their patients.
Although targets have been advantageous in bringing about improvements in the past, the current feedback from ED staff shows that, when systems are under significant strain, they feel pressurised by the imposition of such external targets, and that they believe this could cause patient care to suffer. Some 54.2% said they were permanently under external pressure. Support from hospital management was also perceived to be inadequate; 35% of professional responders responding that hospital managers never supported the introduction of improvements, and 47% thinking that procedures for improving flow in the ED were never effective.
Alarmingly, some patients surveyed felt so concerned about their safety in the ED that they said they would prefer not to go there at all, believing that overcrowding, long waiting times, and exhausted staff would lead to medical errors.
“Dedicated professionals need the right environment and support in which to carry out their work, and patients need to feel reassured that they will get the best treatment. Currently we are far from that being the case. Governments and healthcare authorities must remedy this now, before the situation worsens further when it may become too late to arrest the spiral of decline,” says Dr Connolly.
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26 May 2023
For EM-Day 2023 we conducted 3 surveys about safety, for patients/general public, for professionals and for patient organisations.
The results are shared in a paper, written by Roberta Petrino, Eeva Tuunainen, Giulia Bruzzone, and Luis Garcia-Castrillo, published in the European Journal of Emergency Medicine, also an editorial was published, written by EUSEM president, Jim Connollly. Please find a link to each publication:
Editorial: With safety in mind
25 February 2023
Ambulance response times in England were the worst on record across all major categories in December, while people waiting 12 hours or more to be admitted to A&E reached an all-time high. The average response time for people requiring an ambulance for a stroke, severe burns or chest pain was 93 minutes, five times the operation target of 18 minutes.
Ambulance response times in England were the worst on record across all major categories in December, while people waiting 12 hours or more to be admitted to A&E reached an all-time high.
The average response time for people requiring an ambulance for a stroke, severe burns or chest pain was 93 minutes, five times the operation target of 18 minutes.Read more
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