Acute Care


What is Acute Care?

Acute health care describes the specialist services provided as an extension of primary care. However, it is difficult to define exactly what 'acute' refers to: an MI is, but what about CML, a slow-growing cancer?


First aid is often the beginning of acute care, followed by emergency care.




Who Provides Acute Care?

Everyone! A mother putting an ice pack on her child's bumped head is providing acute care. Most people should receive some measure of first aid training, which is an important component of acute care.

Within the health care system, acute care is most obviously typified by emergency services, such as EMS or emergency departments. Acute care can also be provided by family doctors, who can treat a fever or suture a wound. Specialists are heavily involved in acute care by providing focused attention on the body system or process involved.

Complicated diagnostic testing or rescue technologies are usually provided by specialists or subspecialists.





Referrals and Consultations

Often, acute health care is accessed via referral services. Effective and expiditious communication among health care professionals is a key component of patient-centred health care.

Needs are especially great between primary care workers and specialists. More work needs to be done strengthening these bonds.

Referrals can be used as a source of learning (CME) for the person doing the referring - ask lots of questions!


Referrals to support groups are another important thing many people don't know about.