Originally approved April 2021
The emergency department (ED) is a common, and often essential, access point to the health care system. In some cases, particularly among underserved communities with limited access to routine outpatient services, ED visits represent a potential opportunity to perform disease and risk factor screening.
Disease screening leads to early diagnosis, management, and treatment of disease, reducing morbidity and mortality. Further, screening can limit transmission of infectious diseases, reduce overall healthcare costs, and improve population health. Similarly, screening for disease and social risk factors recognizes that a significant portion of individual and community health is influenced by these underlying conditions. Modifying risk factors may ultimately reduce unnecessary ED utilization and lead to improved health outcomes.
At the same time, disease and risk factor screening is not the primary function of the ED. Choosing what to screen for, and under what condition screening can and should occur, entails thoughtful consideration of ED capacity and community needs. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) recommends that EDs strongly consider screening for disease and risk factors based on the following criteria: