Commentary: Maximizing the effect and influence of social emergency medicine

Ann Emerg Med

Emergency physicians consider the social and behavioral aspects of health in their work almost constantly (and certainly more often than they, or others, recognize). Despite this, a deep internal tension, from frontline staff to national leadership in regard to the role of emergency medicine in addressing social and behavioral determinants of health, persists. Consider the fiercely egalitarian ED triage nurses who could not care less about expediting care for the very important person or hospital donor who has been waiting for 40 minutes with a minor complaint. For these emergency care providers, the sicker patients always get prioritized regardless of their insurance, housing, employment, or literacy status. Even among the most jaded individuals, the social mission of emergency medicine, manifested through a process in which all patients are treated regardless of when they come in or their ability to pay, produces a pride and recognition that runs deep throughout our profession.

This article is part of a special supplement: Inventing Social Emergency Medicine: A Consensus Conference to Establish the Intellectual Underpinnings of Social Emergency Medicine.

Meisel ZF. Commentary: Maximizing the effect and influence of social emergency medicine. Ann Emerg Med. 2019;74(5):S66-S68. DOI:

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