Could emergency medicine (EM), which often is characterized as overutilized by patients, criticized as excessive in performing tests, labeled as unjustifiably expensive, and susceptible to diagnostic error, be doing something right? Burke and colleagues1 found that the mortality rate declined considerably among Medicare beneficiaries who had visited an emergency department (ED) from 2009 to 2016, particularly in patients with high-severity conditions. Given the limits of observational studies, the cause of the lower mortality rate is unknown. We suspect that both EM proponents and detractors will use the study’s analysis to validate their own health care policy conclusions.
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Smith SW, Lee DC, Goldfrank LR. Reflections on Mortality and Uncertainty in Emergency Medicine. JAMA Intern Med. 2020;180(1):88–90. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.4858
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