American Academy of Emergency Medicine

AAEM Position Statement on Screening and Redirection of Emergency Department Patients

The primary duty of an emergency department is to care for the most severely ill patients. With increasing emergency department patient volume the care of bona fide emergencies may be compromised if physician, nursing and other resources are occupied with the care of non-emergencies. Therefore, it is the position of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine that the direction of patients who do not have medical emergencies away from an emergency department is ethical. The determination of a non-emergency requires the performance of an appropriate medical screening examination by a qualified provider. If a hospital enacts such a program, AAEM encourages the hospital to provide referral or access to alternative sources of care for such patients.

However, while redirection of individuals without emergencies is an ethical practice, AAEM does not believe it is in the best interests of the hospital, the emergency physicians, or the community at large to deny patients access to care, and would rather hospitals create systems to accommodate all persons presenting to its ED.