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James G. Adams, MD
Professor and Chair of Department
It is a great pleasure to welcome you to our emergency medicine website at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Our site captures only a few of the ongoing developments and improvements in the quality and efficiency of clinical care, achievements in science, success in medical student and resident education, and breakthroughs in technology that are all improving patient care delivery. All of the programs within emergency medicine are geared toward a single vision, which is the achievement of the best patient experience. This requires care of the highest technical quality, though technical quality alone is not enough. We must also assure efficiency, guarantee safety, promote communication, and achieve satisfaction, all toward the end of providing reliable, compassionate care. Of course, genuine patient satisfaction is not achievable or sustainable without the fulfillment of the caregivers as well, so the well being of those on the front line is also at the heart of our mission. This broad vision sustains, motivates, and energizes our clinical and scientific enterprise.
The ED succeeds in this seemingly impossible mission because of resilient, responsive, caring professionals. If this model of delivery was proposed as a business, there would likely be no investors, and it would be deemed an ill-fated venture. Indeed, it sometimes seems to be an irrational undertaking. The medical challenges are exceedingly broad, and federal and state regulations make high demands, even as payment is uncertain at best. Uninsured and underinsured patients continue to increase. Medical liability is a genuine crisis, now costing over 20% of our net revenue. Paradoxically, the care has never been safer, though the diagnostic uncertainty that marks emergency care makes risk ever present. Safety and high diagnostic accuracy is a driving value. Admittedly, the cost of care disproportionately escalates and the likelihood of error is driven down to exceedingly small degrees. The challenges are extreme, a sound balance is tough to achieve. Yet doctors and nurses of extraordinary skill are drawn to the practice, perhaps because they honor the ability to serve those in need. Service is, in itself, the primary reward. Invigorated by the challenges, rejuvenated by our continued improvements, and fulfilled by caring for those in need, we are drawn to and remain in this special environment.
We thank you for taking the time to visit our website and especially acknowledge the many people who are key to the success of the ED. Such individuals include physician specialists/consultants and the entire medical staff, the strong nursing programs, the integral radiology and laboratory services, as well as myriad other services, the strong hospital leadership, the medical school departments, deans, and numerous others.