Day-to-day compassion in the emergency department

​Despite its representation in the media as a place of unremitting tribulation, the ED is brimming with compassion

​Despite its representation in the media as a place of unremitting tribulation, the emergency department is brimming with compassion

Care and compassion are not synonymous with emergency department (ED) care in the national press. EDs are portrayed as places of suffering or arduous waits and staff are frequently criticised for the number of people waiting more than four hours to be seen. It feels like the only service that matters is a quick service.

But recently I cared for a patient who was picked up by the ambulance service as a ‘cause for concern’. He was unkempt, brought from his squalid home and covered in excrement that was days old. Because of his alcoholism, he wanted to leave to have another drink but authorisation to keep him in was granted under the Mental Capacity Act. He had sustained a head injury and because he was confused he


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