On September 14–15, 2017, 50 thought leaders were invited by ACEP, the Emergency Medicine Foundation, and the Andrew Levitt Center for Social Emergency Medicine to Dallas for Inventing Social Emergency Medicine, a consensus conference to establish the intellectual underpinnings of this growing field, which incorporates social context into the structure and practice of emergency medicine.
Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the conference drew from a broad range of leaders, representing at least 16 emergency medicine programs. Some participants had been involved in emergency medicine almost since its birth, including Lewis Goldfrank, MD, FACEP, of New York University (NYU) Medical Center in New York City, Jerome Hoffman, MD, FACEP, of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Stephen Hargarten, MD, MPH, of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and Edward Bernstein, MD, FACEP, of Boston Medical Center, among others. Thanks to the Levitt Center’s Lynton Scholars program, two medical students and four residents attended. There were seven alumni of the RWJF Clinical Scholars Program and five current fellows from its legacy program, the National Clinician Scholars program. Two board members from ACEP—Stephen Anderson, MD, FACEP, and Jay Kaplan, MD, FACEP—attended the entire session, as did several ACEP staff members.
Conference Sessions Day 1
There were five prepared papers, each with two prepared commentaries, all circulated to the participants in advance of the meeting. Each half day focused on two such sets, with the last session oriented to the future. The discussions ranged widely, incorporating the full ecology of social emergency medicine, from bedside practice to emergency department and hospital re-engineering to address social determinants of health, to working for leverage in communities and populations. The conversation was remarkably inclusive—49 of the 50 participants took the microphone at least once.
The opening discussion built upon paper one, “Principles of Social Emergency Medicine,” by Dr. Goldfrank and Jahan Fahimi, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), with commentaries by N. Ewen Wang, MD, of Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California, and Suzanne Lippert, MD, of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California. Among many incisive observations made during this session, a comment by Lia Losonczy, MD, a critical care fellow at Maryland Shock/Trauma and author of one of the conference’s most-cited papers, seemed to sum it up. Reflecting on the task ahead, Dr. Losonczy remarked that clinicians often turn a blind eye to social needs because we don’t feel equipped to address them. She added, “With the right tools, they will be emboldened.”