The Department of Emergency Medicine's Research Program focuses on acute care research. "Acute care" involves all aspects of time-critical medical conditions. It encompasses resuscitation, acute treatment and stabilization, hospital care, recovery, system organization, and prevention of acute illnesses. Our program advances the science, practice, and education of acute care at UAB and in its surrounding communities. This model fosters cross-campus collaborations between the UAB Schools of Medicine, Public Health, Engineering, Nursing, and Arts and Sciences, and continues to strengthen partnerships with community stakeholders. Specific areas of interest for our research program include:

Cardiac Arrest Cardiac arrest describes when a victim’s heart stops beating and blood flow to the brain and other organs is interrupted. Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest affects over 350,000 persons in the US annually. Alabama has the second highest rate of out of hospital cardiac arrest in the country. Although survival has risen slightly due to improvements in pre-hospital care, the survival rate remains low. Victims of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest have <10% chance of surviving. More research is needed to optimize care for these patients, including the care given by bystanders, by paramedics in the field, and after arrival in the hospital. 

Major Trauma
Trauma is the sixth leading cause of death worldwide and the fifth leading cause of significant disability. Traumatic injury is the leading cause of death in North America for persons between the ages of 1 and 44 years. While elderly persons are less likely to be injured, they are more likely to die from injuries because of the physiological differences that make it harder for the body to compensate for the injuries. Current treatments still result in a very high failure or mortality rate. Outcomes after traumatic injury arrest have not improved significantly in the US for more than 30 years.

Sepsis is a dangerous syndrome of body-wide systemic inflammation triggered by microbial infection. Sepsis is a major threat to the health of US communities, resulting in over 750,000 hospitalizations and 215,000 deaths annually - more than from heart attack, lung cancer, or breast cancer. The annual national cost of severe sepsis care is $16.7 billion. Sepsis occurs in 1-2% of all hospitalizations and accounts for as much as 25% of ICU bed utilization. There were approximately 651 hospital stays per 100,000 population with a sepsis diagnosis in 2010. Children under 12 months of age and elderly people have the highest incidence of severe sepsis. A study of Medicare recipients in 18 U.S. States found that septicemia was the second most common principal reason for readmission within 30 days.

Emergency Geriatrics There are Adults ages 65 and older utilize emergency departments disproportionately and experience higher hospitalization rates than younger populations. Avoidable hospitalizations are associated with adverse health outcomes and enormous, unsustainable costs. Recognizing the imperfect fit of the traditional emergency care model, the concept of the geriatric emergency department was developed to attain the triple aim of improving the experience of care while yielding better population health at lower costs. However, consensus geriatric emergency department guidelines were just released in 2014, and studies have not yet had time to show whether they are effective. In order to enhance the penetration of geriatric emergency care principles into healthcare settings with variable resource availability, leaders in emergency medicine and geriatrics jointly recognize the need for different geriatric emergency care models.

Hepatitis C Virus (HCV): Hepatitis C is a virus that causes an infection of the liver. This symptomless disease often goes undiagnosed for decades, and is often discovered unexpectedly. For most people, HCV is a chronic infection will cause serious health consequences if it is allowed to continue untreated. In 2013, our emergency department began screening patients for HCV, and helping positive patients get into a treatment program. Since that time, this program has identified over 1500 previously unrecognized HCV infections and a more than 10% of these were infections among previously unaware “baby boomers.” Our emergency department now screens all patients for HCV, unless patients choose to opt out of testing.  

Human Immunodeficiency Virus: