Clinical Implications of Climate Change on US Emergency Medicine: Challenges and Opportunities
The adverse influences of climate change are manifesting as health burdens relevant to clinical practice, affecting the very underpinnings of health and stressing the health care system. Emergency medicine is likely to bear a large burden, with its focus on urgent and emergency care, through its role as a safety-net provider for vulnerable populations and as a leader in disaster medicine. Clinically, climate change is affecting emergency medicine practice through the amplification of climate-related disease patterns and epidemiologic shifts for conditions diagnosed and treated in emergency departments (EDs), especially for vulnerable populations. In addition, climate-driven intensification of extreme weather is disrupting health care delivery in EDs and health care systems. Thus, there are significant opportunities for emergency medicine to lead the medical response to climate change through 7 key areas: clinical practice improvements, building resilient EDs and health care systems, adaptation and public health engagement, disaster preparedness, mitigation, research, and education. In the face of this growing health threat, systemwide preparation rooted in local leadership and responsiveness is necessary to efficiently and effectively care for our vulnerable communities.