School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Department History

A Brief History of the Department of Emergency Medicine

The present Academic Department grew directly from the community's needs that were apparent in the emergency room of the old Detroit General Hospital (DGH). Prior to the 1967 Detroit riots, patient care in that emergency room was provided exclusively by relatively junior medical and surgical house-staff. The response in the crisis of 1967 by that hospital, its staff, and its University-based faculty physicians was heroic, but the need for much enhanced medical staff oversight of the emergency room became obvious. Ronald L. Krome, M.D. graduated from the Wayne State Surgery residency in 1969 and was assigned staff-oversight responsibility for the DGH emergency room. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) was also incorporated in 1969 with its first national headquarters in Lansing, Michigan.

By the early 1970s, Dr. Krome had begun to develop an emergency physician staff that practiced exclusively in emergency medicine and the Emergency Department had become a formal part of the hospital's administrative structure. The specialty journal that is now Annals of Emergency Medicine began to be published in 1970, and Dr. Krome was its editor-in chief from 1972-1988. The first residency in Emergency Medicine began at the University of Cincinnati in 1973, and an interim national residency accreditation mechanism was developed by the emerging specialty. The Academic Section of Emergency Medicine was formed in this University's Department of Surgery in 1976, and the Emergency Medicine residency at DGH began in 1976 with Dr. Bock as the first residency director. Dr. Judith Tintinalli, now Chairperson of the Department of Emergency Medicine at U.N.C. Chapel Hill, served as residency director from 1977-1984. Drs. Krome, Wiegenstein ( Lansing, MI), and Wagner (Medical College of Philadelphia) were the Emergency Medicine negotiating team that achieved on September 19, 1979 final approval of the specialty certifying board examination that is administered by the American Board of Emergency Medicine.

After a four year hiatus in Texas, Dr. Bock returned to Detroit in 1985, successfully negotiated with Dean of Wayne State University Medical School and Emergency Medicine achieved the status of an Academic Department. In 1990 Dr. Bock became a tenured full professor and the first Chairman of this Academic Department.

Over the next 15 years the Department established itself nationally as a premier educational and research institution. A second accredited residency, Sinai-Grace Hospital, joined the Department while patient volumes within the Detroit Medical Center exceeded 325,000 visits annually. Faculty achieved national prominence in leadership positions within the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American Board of Emergency Medicine, the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the American Medical Association, and the Institute of Medicine.

Working with the DMC, faculty members restructured the process of care within the Emergency Departments and established a guarantee that patients would be evaluated by a physician within 29 minutes of their arrival. This program was launched in May 2004 and has contributed positively to the financial turnaround of the DMC.

In June 2005, Dr. Bock resigned as Chair to become President of Harper University Hospital and Hutzel Women’s Hospital within the DMC. Dr. Padraic J. Sweeny was named Interim Chair and continued to provide strong leadership for the department. On September 1, 2006 Dr. Suzanne R. White was named permanent Chair and a new chapter in our history began.