Archive for category ACEP Updates

Track It Down in Seattle

Fellow ACEP Members,

For those who made the trip to Denver this past October, hopefully you were able to “add more science to your Scientific Assembly experience” by visiting the ACEP Research Forum.  The forum included both oral and poster presentations highlighting cutting-edge research in our field.  The Forum featured an expert panel discussing abstracts that have significant implications for emergency medicine practice or research.  Last year marked the first for the ACEP Research Forum Scavenger Hunt.  In order to bring additional interest, and add a little fun to the Research Forum, a scavenger hunt was created with collaboration from the researchers themselves.

The scavenger hunt consisted of a set of questions for each day of the forum for non-researchers reviewing the posters to complete.  The answers could be found in the poster presentations and each question was followed by a clue to guide you along the way.  Questions for the hunt were contributed by over forty of the presenting researchers.  The contributors were enthusiastic about the scavenger hunt, stating “It’s a great idea!! Very excited about it.” Another researcher appreciated that “It helped me not wait until the last minute to do my poster.”  Summing up the goal of the scavenger hunt well, another contributor commented, “Thanks for increasing the awareness of the research projects.

Those who completed the scavenger hunt were submitted into a drawing for prizes: Virtual ACEP membership and ACEP bookstore gift certificates.  One participant who completed the Scavenger Hunt commented, “It forced you to get a look at the whole range of research EM physicians are involved in, instead of gravitating only to your area of interest.”

Cutting edge research is presented every year at the research forum by hard working practitioners in our field.  Efforts to increase awareness and participation by non-researchers in the forum should be continued.  The Scavenger Hunt is again being planned for the upcoming conference, ACEP13 in Seattle. Be on the lookout for a new and improved Scavenger Hunt with improved convenience and ease of access.  Of course, don’t forget about the exciting ACEP prizes for those cunning enough to navigate the hunt!

Alicia Glynn, MD
Resident, EM-3
Case Western Reserve University/Metro Health Medical Center/Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland, Ohio

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Remember to Use the Fair Health Discount Code

ACEP has arranged for its members to receive a 20% discount on the FH Fee Estimator, a new source of independent charge data from private insurance claims. Participants can access emergency medicine charge data for 491 geographic areas nationwide. This tool gives physicians and management a better understanding of the marketplace and allows instant compare charge data to Medicare fees.

The FH Fee Estimator website,, is easy to use for small data requests. But if you need a more sophisticated data set, contact FAIR Health for custom analytics. To get the ACEP 20% discount, enter the promotion code 20ACEP13 at the checkout screen.

FH Fee Estimator is brought to you by the not-for-profit corporation FAIR Health, whose mission is to bring transparency to healthcare costs through comprehensive data products and consumer resources. Created in 2009 to provide an objective source of data, FAIR Health owns and maintains a database of billions of billed medical and dental services. This database serves as the foundation for benchmark products that reflect the prices charged for healthcare services in specific geographic markets across the country.

This database is a great resource for emergency physicians groups to inform development of fee schedules and other practice decision making, says David McKenzie, CAE, ACEP’s director of physician reimbursement. The data is available based on an aggregation of zip codes and can be tailored for the geographic area you serve. Because it is drawn from actual claims data, it is a wonderful source of information on fees charged in your area, he adds.

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ACEP Calls for Increased Investment in Mental Health Resources and a Ban on the Sale of Assault Weapons

ACEP President Dr. Andy SamaThe American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) today expressed deepest sympathy to all those affected by the senseless tragedy in Connecticut and called on government at every level to increase investments in mental health resources and to ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Emergency physicians see the tragic consequences of gun violence every day. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims and to everyone affected by this terrible event in Newtown.  We deplore the improper use of firearms and support legislative action to decrease the threat to public safety resulting from the widespread availability of assault weapons.  We also are urging policymakers to restore dedicated funding for firearms injury prevention research.

ACEP’s policy on firearm injury prevention endorses limiting the availability of firearms to those “whose ability to responsibly handle a weapon is assured.”  It also calls for aggressive action to enforce current laws against illegal possession, purchase, sale or use of firearms.

The nation’s emergency physicians call for increased funding for the development, evaluation and implementation of evidence-based programs and policies to reduce firearm related injury and death. We will fully support legislation that supports the principles of ACEP’s policy on firearms injury prevention.

The lack of mental health resources in the United States has contributed to a significant increase in visits to the emergency department.  Psychiatric emergencies grew by 131 percent between 2000 and 2007, according to a recent study in Annals of Emergency Medicine.  This is symptomatic of the lack of resources for these patients.

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Update on ACEP and the Choosing Wisely Campaign

ACEP President Dr. David SeabergAlthough ACEP has previously reviewed the Choosing Wisely Campaign and agreed not to participate, due to continued questions and comments from our members, I convened a workgroup to re-review the campaign and ACEP’s participation.  The workgroup consisted of a wide and diverse representation of ACEP members and Committees.

The group was overwhelming in support of not joining the Choosing Wisely Campaign.  Although the issue of cost control is crucial for emergency medicine’s future, the Choosing Wisely Campaign is not the vehicle for ACEP’s participation.

Several important points were made during the workgroup meeting:

  • The College needs to be viewed by CMS, payers, and the public as proactively addressing cost containment and overuse.
  • ACEP needs to be seen as proactively providing solutions rather than appearing to be against any cost cutting or savings suggestions.
  • The College developing and communicating a plan with proactive proposals/solutions will mitigate some cost cutting measures from those that do not understand the unique position of emergency care. It was noted part of the success of the Washington State initiative was the ability to come to the table with a plan, rather than push back against the plan of action presented by the State.
  • Whatever is developed should showcase the specialty in a favorable light and not contradict or conflict with current advocacy efforts.
  • There was support for identifying over-use and developing a positive message on cost savings and efficiencies in the emergency department.
  • To come to consensus on a certain number of tests or services that have limited use would require so many caveats that it would be almost impossible to develop lists as found in the Choosing Wisely Campaign.
  • Ideally any recommendations should include some liability reform/recommendations in using guidelines that may suggest certain tests or procedures are not effective or necessary.

It was recommended that ACEP develop a task force from committees, sections, and members with expertise in these areas to develop a proactive campaign that recognizes the role the emergency department and emergency physicians can play in controlling costs while improving efficiencies and quality patient care. 

The process has already begun with the task force being constituted with the goal of developing messages and strategies for cost control in the emergency department.  The task force will make their recommendations at the October ACEP Board of Directors meeting. 
We also will be educating our members about cost savings programs from other specialties, such as the Image Wisely and Image Gently programs from the American College of Radiology.

President, American College of Emergency Physicians

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ACEP and the Choosing Wisely Campaign

ACEP President Dr. David SeabergA campaign called Choosing Wisely has gotten some attention of late because of its stated goal of reducing health care costs by eliminating tests and procedures that are not “necessary.” Since Choosing Wisely launched, nine medical specialty organizations have offered up their top five items for the chopping block.  These range from CT scans for fainting from the American College of Physicians to antibiotics for chronic sinusitis from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

ACEP was asked to join the campaign in 2011, and after extensive review and discussion at the Committee level, ACEP declined.  There are several reasons for our initial response:

  • Emergency physicians have no right of refusal with our patients and often pick up the slack for other members of our esteemed profession. A recent member poll showed that 97% of us report seeing patients on a daily basis who are sent to the emergency department by their primary care physician. Many of these patients have been sent in with expressed instructions from the family physician to have this or that test ordered either because their office practice is swamped, the office is closed, or they lack the facilities to perform these tests. 
  • ABIM, the organization sponsoring the campaign, refused to allow any discussion of liability reform as a component of the Choosing Wisely campaign. To quote from the letter ACEP Past President Dr. Sandy Schneider sent to Daniel Wolfson, ABIM’s Executive VP and COO: “This is a significant issue in emergency medicine and a critical factor as to why emergency physicians order the number of tests and procedures they do.  Unlike primary care physicians, emergency physicians are not chosen by their patients, who have a greater tendency to sue for any perceived untoward event. In addition, we often lack prior care information. It is simply not possible for emergency physicians to talk about reducing ‘unnecessary’ testing without including messages about the need for medical liability reform.”
  • Emergency physicians approach our patients with the goal of eliminating anything life threatening. We cannot afford to miss anything, even something that seems like a long-shot. The consequences may be life or death for our patients. A test that is unnecessary for 99 patients may save the life of patient number 100.
  • Emergency medical care constitutes just 2 percent of all health care spending in the United States, no doubt in part because so much of the care we deliver is uncompensated. We are masters of efficiency and improvisation but there is only so far a dollar can be stretched. Emergency departments have been closing at an alarming rate across the country because so much care isn’t paid for. This is not the place to cut costs any further.
  • Lastly, should ACEP participate in this campaign, it very well may assure that emergency physicians will not receive reimbursement for the five identified procedures or tests.

ACEP is dedicated to advancing emergency care and promoting evidence-based quality improvement measures for its patients. To that end, we are reevaluating our response to the Choosing Wisely campaign by developing a workgroup, comprised of members from the Reimbursement, Medical-Legal, EM Practice, Clinical Policies, Quality and Performance, and Public Relations Committees to examine the issue and prepare a proposal for ACEP Board consideration.

President, American College of Emergency Physicians



Your Opinion is Important to Us

Sandra Schneider, MD, FACEP, ACEP Past President

I would like to personally invite you to become a member of the Emergency Medicine Practice Research Network – EM-PRN. Becoming a member is simple; just click on this link and answer a brief survey. It will take less than five minutes. We want to know if you are seeing patients with chronic pain, we want to know if you are experiencing medication shortages and how you are coping. We want to know how you practice. YOUR ANSWERS will provide ACEP with essential information for our advocacy in Washington and improving emergency care. To stay a member, all you need TO DO is to agree that you will complete 3-4 surveys, five minutes or less, each year.

Membership at this time is only open to ACEP members, residents, attendings and life members. Sorry, we cannot as yet accommodate non-members or medical students. Many other specialities have built practice research networks. Pediatrics has had one for more than a decade. They started small, like us. They have found that getting data from physicians on the front lines is often very different than getting it from inner city, teaching hospitals. Once you join EM-PRN, you will be able to do much more than just give opinions to survey questions. We want to submit ideas for research projects and survey questions that YOU would be interested in. Our group will pick the more interesting and the most popular IDEAS for the next survey. So you not only will be providing answers, you’ll be designing the questions.

Right now and for the next few years, EM-PRN will be largely surveys. Eventually, we will likely want to grow to collect some data. For example, IN THE FUTURE we might want to monitor the number of patients seen with chronic pain in emergency departments. You would simply count the actual number of patients you see during a single shift (no names, no identifiers) and submit it to ACEP.

We could then monitor this number over time to see if it is increasing, decreasing or staying the same. The members of EM-PRN will help direct what research projects we consider and will be acknowledged on any publication. Members will also receive the results of any project ahead of publication. So in the time it has taken you to read this Blog, YOU could contribute to advancing our knowledge of the real practice of emergency medicine. Join now.



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Join the Fight: Don’t Blame the Emergency Department For Everything

PhotobucketEditor’s Note: Nathaniel Schlicher, MD, JD, is the Associate Director of the Patient Safety Organization, TeamHealth and the Legislative Chairman, Washington Chapter of ACEP.

Did you hear?  “The ER physicians and hospitals have been abusing their privileges as providers of ER services for years,” according to the Chief Medical Officer for the Washington State Medicaid Program. 

These are the statements that make involvement in organized medicine and participation in leadership at all levels critical.  But where do we acquire the skills to combat these misperceptions and outlandish statements?

In May every year, there is a one of a kind event in Washington, DC called the ACEP Leadership and Advocacy Conference.  It is an intimate conference with about 500 attendees, representing leaders in emergency medicine from across the country. 

The conference focuses on principles of leadership, current issues in advocacy, media training, and practical everyday leadership challenges that will confront leaders in every state.  It is also an excellent opportunity to network with colleagues from across the country.

When I first attended 5 years ago, I went as a member of the EMRA Chair’s Challenge and the incoming Legislative Advisor for EMRA – a neophyte to organized medicine by all accounts.  It was an eye-opening experience to be talking with the leaders of our specialty.  These were the people and faces that went with the legendary names I read about in Annals and ACEP News.  Now I was talking with them, learning from their experiences and stories, and finding out how varied the opportunities were in emergency medicine. 

From chairs of departments, leaders of advocacy groups such as the AARP, AMA delegates, speakers of the council, and so many others, I had the chance to see and live the history of our specialty.  Then on the final day of the conference, we put it all together and walked up to Capitol Hill as hundreds of physicians representing our millions of patients to share our stories with elected officials and change the face of medicine.

This year it is my privilege to share with you my experience in Washington State, having put these skills into action on the local level.  When I joined the Washington ACEP Board of Directors, I never imagined I would use so much of what I learned at LAC.  From media training skills in doing press interviews and the gotcha journalism warnings, to relationships I have leaned on for statistical assistance in fighting misleading information, and the practice of speaking with legislators – these are all invaluable skills. 

If you have the slightest of desire to join the leadership of emergency medicine in your hospital as a facility medical director, at the state level in an ACEP Chapter, nationally on a committee, or be involved in one of the hundreds of other ways possible, I encourage you to attend ACEP’s Leadership and Advocacy Conference in May.  It is the conference that I walk away from every year re-invigorated and ready to take on the challenges of caring for our patients in the halls of our department, but also and more challenging often, the halls of the Legislature.  You will not regret coming to DC, but you might just regret missing it!

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My Story

ACEP Palliative Medicine SectionPlease send your stories to Tracy Napper at

In all my career, I never met a patient that taught me so much as Staci. Staci, a 25-year-old business owner who presented with headache. A very routine case. You see, she has had similar headaches before. Strong family history of migraines. Her headaches usually get better with Excedrin but every once in a while comes to the ED for compazine or reglan with benadryl. This was no different this time. Normal exam, photophobia, no neck stiffness. She was treated in the usual fashion and felt much improved. She went home and smiled as she said thanks and good night. The next day Staci had more pain, worse than before. Imaging was done and the radiologist saw something suspicious. MRI showed a tumor. It had the classic appearance of the last thing you want to hear. After a workup, biopsy, and surgery she awoke on October 14, 2009 in the recovery room very cheerful and told everyone around her how much she appreciated the care she received. In the days that followed she was aware of her diagnosis of brain cancer. The neurosurgeons got all of it but wanted her to have chemotherapy, just to make sure.

At St. Joseph’s there was concern about long lengths of stay and tremendous cost of EOL care. The Dartmouth study came out showing NJ as the state with the highest cost for end of life care. I had continued my interest and was on EOL committees and involved with the local hospice. I had plans to take the palliative medicine boards being offered about one year later, in November 2010.

A month later Staci came in to the ED. She again had headaches. She was getting the chemotherapy. When I spoke to her the first thing she said was thanks for caring about me. Her neurosurgeon asked her to come back to the hospital and see what was going on. A CT showed post-op changes and mass effect. I felt comfortable telling her the tumor was back. I explained that the path report showed a highly aggressive tumor. I explained that some people don’t survive this. I asked her if she had been told this before. She said never. I was horrified. What have I done? She made me feel better when she then said that no one told her but she knew she got her medical record and knows she has a glioblastoma. She knew she would take a trip soon She didn’t know when See, Staci would say she was dying, she insisted she was taking a trip to Milan. She was waiting for her doctors to confirm it. They told her it doesn’t matter what it is – focus on the treatment.

Staci was scheduled for surgery just after Thanksgiving. She had been in the ED twice for pain. Every time we spoke she said thanks. She said she made goals to spend Christmas with her family. She knew she could do it.

Staci’s surgery went well medically but the tumor had grown much faster than they thought. She would not leave the hospital. She was going to be admitted to inpatient hospice. Well, that’s what the surgeons and oncologist said.

December 11th Staci painted her nails stiletto red and signed out of the hospital AMA.

Over the next 14 days she put her life in order. She sold her business and took care of all financial issues, made arrangements for her pets and had plans for her clothes and furnishings to be donated to a women’s shelter. She put her house on the market and decorated it for Christmas. She even bought Christmas presents. Wrote notes to her nieces and watch her favorite basketball team with her dad. Her health continued to decline but her pain and non-pain symptoms were well controlled. She told me she was going to make it to Christmas but not to New Year’s. On the 23rd she wrote the 22 things you must do before you die. Staci slept most of the 24th and couldn’t have Christmas Eve dinner with her family. She wasn’t upset about this. She couldn’t eat anyway. She was saving her energy for the 25th. Her nieces woke her at 5am. Late on the evening of the 25th she told me it was the best Christmas ever. Her mom and dad were there, her nieces and all those she cared about . She was ready for her trip, she said. I asked her when she was leaving. She said in a couple days. I last heard from her on the morning of Dec 28th. She said goodbye and thanks. She asked me to share her list of the 22 things to do before you die. She died in her sleep that night.

22 things to do before you die:

Tell people that you love that you love them.

Plan your flight (will, burial, monies, belongings…..) dot the “i’s” and cross the “T’s.”

Keep Pushing … what’s the worst that can happen?

Don’t worry about things you never had a chance to do. Cherish the things you did.

Find a way to laugh.

Give hope to those still in the fight.

Run up your credit cards, Banks are the last to know.

Acknowledge the people who are close to you will be sad and think it’s not fair;.comforting them for some reason comforts you.

Make peace with friend and foe.

Cover your mirrors … don’t dwell on how you look now. What you see in the mirror is cancer, that’s not you

It’s OK to cry even if you tell others not to.

Take care of your pets. They love you unconditionally. Leave plenty of food and water out for them because friends and family will forget to feed them.

If there are children or loved ones write a letter in words they can understand.

Record an audio message; videos show death but your voice doesn’t have to reflect that.

Keep in mind that no parent nor spouse wants to watch you die; comfort them. Let them know it’s not their fault. They will never forget that conversation.

Live your life and live your death like a Dr Seuss book, “I will never say, I wish I would have could have!”

Keep pushing; drink Red Bull. You have plenty of time to sleep when you are dead.

Support groups are fine – BUT – having one true friend listening is like Mastercard commercials: Priceless.

Die at home if possible. Sign out of the hospital. Don’t turn your home into a morgue; have as little medical equipment as possible.

Believe in things that are out of sight – Santa Claus, flying reindeer, virgins have babies, and me!

Don’t let a scared family member call 911.

Know when to give up your car keys.

On Jan 7th St. Joseph’s started an ED-based palliative medicine program and Palliative Care Emergency Center. We have treated and cared for more than 300 EOL patients in the first 18 months.

Thank you, Staci.

Mark S Rosenberg, DO, MBA, FACEP, FACOEP-D
Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine
Geriatric Emergency Medicine and Palliative Medicine
St. Joseph’s Healthcare System
Paterson, NJ

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Clinical Policies Now Available on ACEP’s Mobile Site

Get the critical questions and recommendations for all 21 of ACEP’s Clinical Policies. This easy-to-use format can be used as a quick reference when you need it through your iPhone, Blackberry, or other smartphone. See it today! And be sure to let us know if this is useful and what other mobile features you’d like to see us work on.

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New Sports Medicine Lecture Series Available

ACEP Sports MedLooking to fill a curriculum gap, ACEP’s Sports Medicine Section created a lecture series on the most common and the most serious medical illness and injuries associated with athletes and physically active individuals.

Topics inlcude:

  • Cardiac Conditions in Athletes 
  • Head and Neck Injuries in Athletes
  • Musculoskeletal Examination
  • Overuse Injuries 
  • Pediatric Sports Injuries 
  • and more

See the series online.

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