Recent published reports from the Institute of Medicine's Division of Health Care Services, Emergency Medical Services for Children, and the Josiah Macy Jr Foundation's Conference on the Role of Emergency Medicine in the Future of American Medical Care, as well as "A Public Health Approach to Emergency Medicine: Preparing for the Twenty-first Century,"1 suggest new roles for emergency medicine in areas of public health. Emergency medicine plays a crucial role in the public's access to essential health care. This care can be used to help achieve primary preventive health strategies, such as childhood immunization, and secondary preventive care, such as intervening in the destructive behavior patterns of alcoholics and substance abusers.
Nonfinancial barriers to health care access, such as patient race, diagnosis, geographic location, social class and culture, gender, and age, are more complex and possibly more insoluble problems than the lack of health insurance.2 Such populations as
Goldfrank LR. Emergency Medicine. JAMA. 1995;273(21):1673-1674. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520450043021