Emergency medical care in rural America

Ann Emerg Med. 2001 Sep;38(3):323-7. doi: 10.1067/mem.2001.115217.


The delivery of high-quality emergency care in a rural setting requires a conceptual framework quite different from that required in urban and suburban environments, given that available resources are limited in the rural setting. The intermittent and episodic nature of seriously ill and injured patients who present to rural emergency departments makes it difficult to plan, staff, and equip in order to provide emergency medical care at the same level seen at higher volume urban or suburban institutions. The objective of this article is to describe the distinctive nature and widely unrecognized features of emergency medicine in rural and remote areas, with a focus on clinical, workforce, and economic issues. We present recommendations for a shift in thinking and a call to action on behalf of all emergency medicine professionals that are based on a realistic assessment of the current status of emergency medicine and that are needed to develop and sustain high-quality emergency medical care in rural America.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Needs Assessment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • Workforce