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International Conference on Emergency Medicine, April 3-6, 2008

12th International Conference on Emergency Medicine

The 12th annual International Conference on Emergency Medicine took place April 3-6 in San Francisco, attracted more than 1,000 attendees from 43 countries, and presented nearly 300 oral and poster presentations. Topics included disaster preparedness, global outreach, improving patient safety and reducing medical errors.

"Our overall theme was 'Global Needs, Global Responses,'" said program chair Diane Birnbaumer, M.D., of the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, Calif. "One of the most important issues was surge capacity in full and very busy international emergency departments. One of the big concerns was surge capacity in the event of a flu pandemic or a natural or non-natural disaster."

One of the plenary speakers, Lt. Col. Rob Russell, M.D., of Peterborough Hospital in the United Kingdom, discussed how disasters could further stress and possibly even overwhelm emergency departments. But he emphasized that emergency medical systems, as first providers, need to develop strategies for assessing surge capacity and maximizing care in the event of a disaster.

The conference presented many important research studies, according to research forum co-chair Debra Houry, M.D., of the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. "One of the most significant ones was presented by Sandra M. Schneider, M.D., of the University of Rochester, who spoke on how prolonged stays in the emergency department are detrimental to older adults," Houry said. "She and her colleagues found that older adults who are kept in the emergency department for more than six hours, including those who are admitted to the hospital, are significantly more likely to be discharged to a nursing home than they are to be discharged to their own home."

Other noteworthy studies, according to Houry, included a study from Queen's University in Kingston, Canada, showing that injured non-helmeted cyclists are significantly more likely than helmeted cyclists to arrive at emergency departments in ambulances and be diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries. Another study, presented by researchers from Johannesburg Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, showed that glass beer bottles are a significant cause of injuries at public events. "They found that beer bottles can be a potent weapon and cause lacerations of the head and face," Houry said. "That's why a lot of public events in the United States prohibit glass bottles at public events and only offer plastic bottles."

One potentially practice-changing study, Houry said, was presented by researchers from the University of Florida, who conducted a retrospective review of 837 cases in which flumazenil -- a benzodiazepine antagonist -- was administered in benzodiazepine overdoses. "Flumazenil is a drug that used to be commonly given in overdoses, but we stopped using it because of anecdotal evidence that it can cause seizures," Houry said. "But the researchers found that less than 1 percent of overdose patients experienced a seizure after being given the drug. So it may be safer than we had previously thought."

ICEM: More Patients May Leave EDs Than Previously Thought

MONDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Busy emergency departments that install a self-service registration kiosk system may be able to keep more accurate track of the "left without being seen" rate, according to research presented this week at the 12th International Conference on Emergency Medicine in San Francisco.

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ICEM: Gender Linked to Functional Status After Stroke

MONDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Among patients who present at an emergency department with a similarly severe acute ischemic stroke and are discharged with a similar level of functional status, women may have a better short-term functional outcome than men, according to research presented this week at the 12th International Conference on Emergency Medicine in San Francisco.

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MONDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Plain abdominal X-rays may be overused in emergency departments, according to research presented this week at the 12th International Conference on Emergency Medicine in San Francisco.

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ICEM: Hypotension Predicts Mortality in Emergency Patients

FRIDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- In unselected adults who present at emergency departments, hypotension independently predicts in-hospital mortality, according to research presented this week at the 12th International Conference on Emergency Medicine in San Francisco.

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ICEM: Patient Data May Help Improve Disaster Preparedness

FRIDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- Patient data collected in New Orleans after the Hurricane Katrina disaster will help health care personnel prepare for future disasters, according to research presented this week at the 12th International Conference on Emergency Medicine in San Francisco.

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FRIDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- Among emergency residents, perceived stress is independently associated with miles walked during a shift, according to research presented this week at the 12th International Conference on Emergency Medicine in San Francisco.

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Physician's Briefing