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The Division of Observation Medicine oversees VCU Medical Center’s complex care clinical decision unit (CDU).
Located adjacent to the emergency department with 16 beds, the CDU provides an alternative for patients in need of intermediate care who don’t require inpatient hospital admission.
Since the inception of observation medicine in the 1970s, the number of admitted patients under observation status has steadily increased from about 10% to more than 40%. These patients can be effectively managed in an observation unit like our CDU, where we are able to provide expedited, safe and cost-effective care when compared to inpatient admission.
Conditions we most commonly diagnose and treat include the following:
Our team takes a multidisciplinary approach, and we collaborate with nursing staff, social workers, physical therapists and other specialists to achieve the best outcomes in a short period of time — usually less than 23 hours.
Our mission is to provide timely, comprehensive, cost effective and compassionate care to patients under observation status by optimal resource utilization.
Emergency medicine residents rotate through the CDU during their second year of training. Residents in the combined emergency medicine and internal medicine (EM-IM) program have the added option of choosing an Observation Medicine/Administration track which allows them to get in-department training in observation medicine, including learning how to make a business case for starting a unit and determining staffing and protocols.
Some of our former EM-IM residents have gone on to become directors of nascent observation units.
For medical students and residents interested in a career in observation medicine, we recommend checking out the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM)’s observation medicine interest group. We also encourage physicians to attend conferences, like those held by the Michigan College of Emergency Physicians and the Center for Emergency Medical Education.