Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 38 – No 12 – December 2019
Peter Rosen, MD, a giant in the field of emergency medicine, died on Nov. 11, 2019, in Tucson, Arizona, from complications of long-standing cardiac and renal disease. He was 84 years old. Dr. Rosen’s professional life and legacy were defined by a decades-long campaign to legitimize emergency medicine as a discipline, a field of study, and a vital academic specialty. In these efforts, he was largely successful. He was the author of hundreds of academic articles, he founded the Journal of Emergency Medicine, and he was the first emergency physician elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He founded two prestigious emergency medicine residency programs and taught at several others in a career that spanned six decades. The recipient of droves of awards and accolades as a medical educator, he will perhaps best be remembered as the founding editor of the first definitive textbook for the field of emergency medicine, Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice, known today simply as “Rosen’s.”
His landmark 1979 essay, “The Biology of Emergency Medicine,” largely defined the landscape of a field still in its infancy, laying out the dueling responsibilities of the well-trained emergency physician: the identification and treatment of life- and limb-threatening conditions on one hand, and the cognitive discipline of confidently reassuring and discharging the well on the other. He argued convincingly that the unique skills of the emergency physician could not be adequately performed by physicians from other specialties, who typically had expertise in only one particular facet of emergency medicine.
Dr. Rosen mentored hundreds of emergency physicians and had many more thousands of admirers. Equal parts intellectual and indelicate, he furnished his colleagues and disciples with a lifetime of memorable quotations, both amusing and poignant. His insights, quips, and bon mots are often repeated, passed down from one generation to the next, making him a kind of modern-day Osler.
I have asked Dr. Richard Wolfe to provide some personal recollections.
Dr. Faust is ACEP Now Medical Editor in Chief.
Peter Rosen died on the evening of Nov. 11, 2019, slipping off quietly, his wife and best friend, Ann, at his side, as she had been throughout their 60-year marriage.
Medically, his death came as no surprise. He had long suffered from coronary artery disease and ischemic cardiomyopathy. In the last year of his life, he was on dialysis, had become frail, and used a wheelchair to get around. But until the end, his mind remained brilliant, incisive, and iconoclastic. To all of us who knew him, his death still feels untimely.