ED Management Special Report: IOM issues landmark report on emergency medicine

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a report, "To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System," that led to a radical shift in the way health care organizations and agencies address patient safety. Now the IOM has turned its attention to the nation's emergency care system. Its three-year "Future of Emergency Care" project, just completed, has resulted in the publication of three reports totaling more than 800 pages.

The reports — on hospital-based emergency and trauma care, emergency medical services (EMS), and pediatric emergency care — were derived from 11 studies commissioned by recognized experts in emergency care.

Many of them are quoted in this issue. They share the same overriding themes, perhaps the most pervasive being, "We're all in this together." That is, EDs are not islands unto themselves, but departments that are part of larger systems: hospitals, communities, and regions.

Because these recurring themes were so broad, and because many of the IOM's recommendations were directed toward these systems, we thought it was important for our readers to "drill down" and examine the impact of these reports on ED managers. In addition to our cover story, which will provide a broad overview of the reports, this special issue will include articles on information technology, patient flow, patient safety and quality, and the emergency care work force. We cover what the reports say and what ED managers must do now to prepare for the future envisioned by the IOM committee.

We hope you find this issue to be a valuable analysis of the forces that will impact your profession in the years to come. As always, we welcome your comments — both on this month's edition of EDM and on the critical (and sometimes controversial) issues raised in the IOM reports. [Editor's note: Copies of the IOM reports are available with the on-line version of ED Management. If you're accessing your on-line account for the first time, go to www.ahcpub.com. Click on the "Activate Your Subscription" tab in the left-hand column. Then follow the easy steps under "Account Activation." If you already have an on-line subscription, go to www.ahcpub.com. Select the tab labeled "Subscriber Direct Connect to Online Newsletters. Please select an archive." Choose "ED Management," and then click "Sign on" from the left-hand column to log in. Once you're signed in, select "2006" and then select the July 2006 issue. For assistance, call Customer Service at (800) 688-2421.]