This project was undertaken, funded and designed to develop a more complete picture of how emergency
departments (EDs) contribute to the U.S. health care system. Using a mix of quantitative and
qualitative methods, it explores the evolving role that hospital EDs and the personnel who staff
them play in evaluating and managing complex and high-acuity patients, serving as the major
portal of entry to inpatient care, and serving as “the safety net of the safety net” for patients who
are unable to get care elsewhere.
This work was sponsored by the Emergency Medicine Action Fund, a consortium of
emergency medicine physician organizations sponsored by the American College of Emergency
Physicians. The research was conducted by RAND Health, a division of the RAND Corporation.