UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Administration

Title: Are Specialty Emergency Departments the Future of Emergency Care?

Keywords: Specialty ED, Geriatric ED, Oncologic ED (PubMed Search)

Posted: 5/21/2024 by Mercedes Torres, MD (Emailed: 5/22/2024) (Updated: 5/22/2024)
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There is a growing trend toward the development of specialty-specific emergency services, such as Geriatric or Oncologic EDs.

  • Supporters of this trend argue that:
    • They provide better care at lower cost.
    • They reduce the overall burden of patients in the general ED.
    • They prevent hospitalizations and improve discharge rates due to specialty services and outpatient resources not otherwise available in the general ED (especially with complex patient populations like geriatrics or oncology).
    • They streamline care for vulnerable populations and decrease ED LOS.
  • On the other hand:
    • Their establishment requires a substantial financial investment.
    • Patients are less likely to use them because they don’t know that they exist.
    • One of the largest studies of Geriatric EDs in the country did not show significantly different discharge rates or 72-hour revisit rates when compared with general EDs.

Will this trend continue? Is the segmentation of emergency care in our future?  The author of this article opines that the answer depends on future outcomes research in this area.


Brouillette M. Are Specialty Emergency Departments the Future of Emergency Care? Oncology- and Geriatric-Focused Emergency Departments Hope to Improve Care, Lower Costs.  Annals of Emergency Medicine.  May 2024, 83(5):9A-12A.