I attended the documentary premier of 24|7|365: The Evolution of Emergency Medicine, and was deeply moved by the commitment and drive shown by the people who fought for improving patient care in emergency departments across the country.
The documentary connects the development of Emergency Medicine as a specialty with the decline of the neighborhood family doctor, who with black bag, would make house calls and often had a clinic in his family home. (Although originally doctors were overwhelmingly men, today medical student enrollment is more equally distributed between the sexes.)
After World War II, migration across the country increased. Local communities that once spanned generations began to disintegrate as people looked for work in cities and newly sprouting suburbs. The emergency department started to replace the family doctor as more people were unmoored from their childhood communities and the possibility of house calls after hours. New technologies also contributed to the need for care within a hospital setting. Furthermore, the injuries and illnesses caused by violence and poverty, especially in inner cities, was a central factor in the development of Emergency Medicine as a specialty.
I wrote in another post about emergency departments as potential models for reforming mental health services — especially the idea of 24|7|365 care, regardless if people are suffering a psychiatric emergency. The guiding idea is to provide treatments directed towards mental well-being at all times and within community settings. Certainly there is still need for regular appointments and continuity of care (and during regular working hours). But the breakdown in local communities that contributes to the need for emergency medicine as a specialty also contributes to the loneliness and isolation that exacerbates psychological suffering, if not actually acting as its cause.
24|7|365: The Evolution of Emergency Medicine is well done and worth viewing, especially if you or someone you care about works in the emergency department (including physicians, nurses, EMS providers, physician assistants, and social workers). The documentary gives an accurate portrayal of the heartfelt, fast-paced work of emergency medicine, its team approach to healthcare, and the maverick personalities the field often attracts.
© 2013 Laura K Kerr, PhD. All rights reserved.