In 2018, the ACEP Council passed Resolution 40-18: Care of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the ED. The goal was to “identify additional resources or educational materials for emergency physicians on the care of patients with autism spectrum disorder who present to the ED” while taking input from key stakeholders, including patients with ASD and their family members.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 39 – No 08 – August 2020
This project was assigned to ACEP’s Emergency Medicine Practice Committee, and Lorna Breen, MD, FACEP, volunteered to lead the subgroup that would develop the content for this educational tool.
“We all recognize that sensory, behavioral, emotional, and communication challenges can present significant barriers to receiving emergency care for patients on the autism spectrum,” said Michael Gertz, MD, FACEP, who joined the national workgroup after starting similar ASD work in California. “Our goal in developing this toolkit was to help break down those barriers and empower emergency physicians to consider broader strategies for treating these patients.”
Dr. Gertz and the other contributors in the group—Connie Kasari, PhD; Sheryl Kataoka, MD, MSHS; Jena Lee, MD; Joann M. Migyanka, DED; and Arvind Venkat, MD, FACEP—divided and conquered the content development. The result covers four main areas: an overview of ASD, how to interact with ASD patients for history and physical, medical and psychiatric conditions, and managing agitation.
The ASD point-of-care tool was published to ACEP’s website shortly after Dr. Breen died by suicide in late April. She guided the work group with “humility,” according to Dr. Gertz. “She would be very proud of the final product, I’m sure.”