Emergency Medical Care

The AAFP believes that access to emergency medical care should be available to all people. An acute medical emergency is an actual or perceived disorder of vital systems, presenting as an immediate or potential threat to life or function, whether due to illness or trauma. The AAFP believes that all family physicians should have a basic understanding of resuscitation and emergency procedures. Those family physicians working in isolated areas are encouraged to seek more advanced understanding of these procedures. The Academy encourages all office-based family physicians to develop practice appropriate protocols and have adequate equipment to deal with office emergencies, taking into consideration the distance (mileage or time) to definitive care, staff training and experience and the availability of other community emergency medical services. Whenever necessary, patients should be transported to a facility capable of managing the immediate care of that patient until definitive care can be obtained. Repeated, episodic emergency medical services should not be substituted for ongoing comprehensive care. Appropriately utilized, emergency medical care should function to manage the patient temporarily until referral can be made for continuing care.

The AAFP strongly recommends that emergency medical treatment be an integral part of the training of family medicine residents. Additionally, appropriate opportunities should be provided for practicing members to maintain skills in emergency medical procedures. (1988) (2009 COD)