Basic Emergency Care: Approach to the Acutely Ill and Injured. Geneva: World Health Organization and the International Committee of the Red Cross 2018)
(2018; 240 pages)


Health emergencies happen every day, everywhere. They affect adults and children and include injuries and infections, heart attacks and strokes, acute complications of pregnancy and of chronic disease. While specialised care may never be available at all times in all places, a systematic approach to emergency conditions saves lives. The Disease Control Priorities Project estimates that nearly half of deaths and a third of disabilities in low- and middle-income countries result from conditions that could be addressed by emergency care.

The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation for Emergency Medicine (IFEM), has developed the Basic Emergency Care (BEC) course for frontline providers who manage acute life-threatening conditions with limited resources. These may include students, nurses, prehospital technicians, clinical officers and doctors who are working in field (pre-hospital) or hospital settings.

Emergency care providers must respond to ‘undifferentiated’ patients, those with acute symptoms for which the cause may not be known. This course introduces a systematic approach to managing acute, potentially life-threatening conditions even before a diagnosis is known.

BEC is based on the clinical recommendations of the WHO IMAI District Clinician Manual, WHO Pocket Book of Hospital Care for Children, WHO Emergency Triage Assessment and Treatment (ETAT) and WHO Integrated Management of Pregnancy and Childbirth. It includes modules on: the ABCDE and SAMPLE history approach, trauma, difficulty in breathing, shock, and altered mental status. The practical skills section covers the essential time-sensitive interventions for these key acute presentations.

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