Update on Public Health Surveillance in Emergency Departments

Shawn M. Varney, Jon Mark Hirshon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The development of public health surveillance systems based on ED visits, in conjunction with other health and nonhealth-related data, is an important step to better understanding the health needs of the US population. There are multiple steps required to develop a functional organization, and these actions require the support and involvement of many different partners. In any given jurisdiction a number of obstacles to structure development may exist and will require teamwork to overcome. Yet, the information derived from these systems on the acute health needs and health care usage patterns of the US population can help both to improve the health of the public and to serve as an early warning system for a possible bioterrorism event. Whereas surveillance systems can serve many important functions, it is also critical to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of protected health information while these systems are created and used. Through the establishment of public health surveillance systems, bidirectional communication is developed, strengthening the relationship between clinical and public health practitioners. The ability to (1) analyze data; (2) distribute results; and (3) influence policy, funding, and patients' behavior are important outgrowths of emergency department-based public health surveillance systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1035-1052
Number of pages18
JournalEmergency Medicine Clinics of North America
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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