History of Emergency Medicine
Emergency medicine is a field of practice based on the knowledge and skills required for the diagnosis and management of acute and urgent aspects of illness and injury affecting patients of all age groups with a full spectrum of undifferentiated physical and behavioural disorders.
One could view the art of Medicine to have begun with the need of treatment of acute illness, thus rendering Emergency Medicine (EM) to be the oldest form of Medicine. However, as a formal and distinct medical specialty, EM is relatively young. In the 1960s, hospital "emergency rooms" were generally staffed by physicians in training (interns and residents), foreign medical graduates and sometimes nurses on a rotating basis. During this period, groups of physicians began to relinquish their respective practices and devote their work full-time, to the chaotic emergency departments (EDs). The first emergency medicine training program was started in the USA in 1970. In 1979, EM became a recognized medical specialty in the USA and subsequently in Australia, Canada, and in the UK. In 2009, the Medical Council of India declared Emergency Medicine as a distinct specialty and from 2010 MD course in Emergency Medicine is started in India.
Emergency Medicine at CMC Vellore
Alumni and visitors of the past to CMC would remember that the old 'Casualty' was located in the ground floor of the OPD building. It was a place of apprehension to interns who often were the only doctors and had to rely upon postgraduate trainees from the respective departments to guide them with acute management of patients. A 3-month audit in 1989 revealed 18 cases of preventable deaths due to trauma; the stimulus which triggered Dr. Suresh David, junior lecturer in the Department of General Surgery, to undergo training in Emergency Medicine at Adelaide, Australia for 3 years. Meanwhile, under the headship of Dr. P.J. Kuruvilla, and under supervision of Dr. Raju Kurien ,the department moved to its present premises, the location of the erstwhile 'A Ward' which was also the 'Ida Scudder' Ward.
Dr. Raju Kurien left for his Orthopaedic training on April 1993 and Dr. Pushp Raj Singh , who had acquired rich experience, working in Mission hospitals in North India and in Tanzanian Occupational Health Services, Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania, joined the department in 1993. On his return in 1994, Dr. Suresh David took up a full-time career in Emergency Medicine. After completing DNB in Family Medicine, Dr. Pushp Raj Singh went to Adelaide, South Australia for Three Years of training in Emergency Medicine. The department grew from an 18-bedded facility to a full-fledged 39-bedded independent clinical department over a period of 10 years. A 1-year Fellowship program in Emergency Medicine in 1997 transformed this department to be a sought-after training area for young clinicians from all over the country, who realized the rich case-mix and learning opportunities which would provide a sound foundation for future clinical practice. In 2008, the Fellowship program was extended to a period of 2 years, to facilitate trainees to have a comprehensive understanding of the practical aspects as well as the theoretical knowledge, which would equip them to handle and to coordinate Emergency Departments all over the country. Each year we take 6 medical graduates who have an aptitude for Emergency Medicine.
Department of Emergency Medicine is recognized to and granted by the M.G.R. Medical University, Chennai to start Bachelor’s course in Accident and Emergency Techniques which is opened for the plus two pass science students. The course will be starting in July 2012.
The strength of CMC’s Emergency Department lies in comradeship; the Christian commitment of the medical and nursing staff. We are proud that our trainees have scattered and established quality emergency care all over India and overseas.Since the Medical Council of India has recognized the Emergency Medicine as a Sub-specialty, we hope to start the MD in Emergency Medicine within a year or so. We are proud to be an independent academic department, a vital window of the Institution and a true steward in the Healing Ministry. To the best of its capability, the Emergency Department has reflected the ethos of the Christian Medical College Hospital.