It has been a long time since Doug Ross, Mark Greene, Carol Hathaway, and the demanding Peter Benton were saving lives every week on our television screens (Carter, too, although he was often fumbling at the beginning). For some of us, though, it’s difficult not to think about the images and associations from the ER television series when the subject of the emergency department or emergency medicine comes up—and not to slip and say emergency room. A scolding from an emergency department physician has stuck with me: It is not just a room, he huffed. It is a department.
Starting with this issue of Managed Care we are taking a look at emergency care in this country that will go beyond memories of fictitious County General Hospital. Over the course of this year, we are going to publish a variety of stories examining emergency care.
“A variety of stories.” So vague. But deliberately so. We’ll see where the curiosity and our resources takes us.
But the commitment to the subject is firm—and unusual for us. We tend to parachute into a story, do the best we can, and then move on.
But you don’t have to be dealing with managed care—or its direct descendant, value-based care—for very long before realizing that one of the main goals is defensive: Do such-and-such and it will help keep people out of emergency department. So ours tends to be the reciprocal vantage point, and it may yield some insights into both managed care and its nemesis.
Maybe our interest in a sustained look goes back to ER. The television show had an amazing run of 15 seasons. Seems like we should be able to keep an eye on emergency medicine for a matter of months.