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Straight Talk Is Back and Changing!

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Hello friends! "Straight Talk from the ER" is, I am happy to say, back! And, I am excited about a new approach we are going to try! Over the last few months, it has become painfully clear to me that I just don't have time to "blog" on a consistent basis. My time is spread very thin between running the Stanford Division of Emergency Medicine, serving as a tactical physician on our Sheriff's SWAT team, volunteering for an Urban Search and Rescue team (California Task Force 3), and being a committed husband and father! Plus, I find that as I am writing my blogs, I get caught up in trying to tell the tale "just right," or wanting to be sure I have the information properly "polished" (part of my type-A personality...goes with the turf). So, the time I was spending writing each blog post was more than my schedule could handle.

So, what's the change? "Straight Talk from the ER" is becoming "Straight Talk from the Stanford ER"! Readers will be getting "the scoop" from several individuals who work, on a daily basis, in the trenches of a busy, level one trauma center. I have invited other attending Emergency Physicians, Emergency Medicine interns and residents in-training, and ER nurses--all working at Stanford--to join me in this project. Readers will gain insight into the different experiences and different approaches of these professionals in the ER, and I think this will make for very interesting and educational reading! How does a resident cope with the stresses of dealing with life and death decisions while trying to learn all he or she must to become a fully qualified "ER doc?" How does an ER nurse cope with conflicting priorities from patients, families, attending physicians, residents, and other nurses? This will be good stuff!

As a bit of an introduction, I thought I'd give you some background on the Stanford ER--to set the stage as it were. We are part of the Stanford University Medical Center, and, as a teaching hospital, we have responsibility for not only providing care to patients in our ER, but for teaching medical students, residents, nursing students and paramedics, and for doing research to expand the knowledge base of Emergency Medicine. Our ER sees over 42,000 patients a year. Currently, we're averaging almost 130 patients a day--in an ER built in the 1970's to see half that number! We're definitely "cramped" for space, but, amazingly, we still handle the volume. As a matter of a fact, we set a new Stanford ER record on February 11th with 173 patients treated that day!

Our facility, being over 30 years old, shows signs of wear and tear, but not our staff! We've got a phenomenal team of doctors, nurses and staff members who really make the place "hum." It's a frenetic place much of the time. Part of the draw for those who work in ER's is the fact that you never know what it's going to be like or what is going to come through those doors next. On any single shift, it can be boring, exciting, fun, sad, exhausting, uplifting...you get the idea!

We're a level one trauma center--the highest rating available from the American College of Surgeons. We serve as the trauma center for the northern half of Santa Clara County and the southern half of San Mateo County, and we take a lot of transfers of trauma patients from surrounding counties as well. We love taking care of trauma patients when they need us, and we're good at it. The "adrenaline rush" one gets from successfully treating broken, traumatized bodies is, frankly, one of the things that draws many folks into a career in Emergency Medicine. Even after 25 years of doing this, there's still nothing like the feeling of walking out the ER doors at the end of a busy shift knowing that your team managed to snatch someone "from the brink." Very satisfying.

We are also a center of excellence in pediatric emergency medicine. The one really nice piece of our physical plant is our Peds ER which we just opened in 2005. It really is "state of the art" with phenomenal amenities for our youngest patients and their families, including Macintosh computers and movies and games to take their attention off the scary things going on around them.

I am more than just a little proud of the people with whom I have the privilege of working in the Stanford ER. Beginning soon, you will hear "Straight Talk" from some of these professionals. Prepare yourself to be entertained, to learn a few practical tips, to have a few chuckles, and to shed a few tears.

Stay alert and stay safe.
- Dr. Bob
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About the Author

The Stanford Emergency Room is the center of emergency care at Stanford University.

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