ACEP 2013 WhiteCoat Recap


ACEP 2013I arrived at ACEP’s 2013 Scientific Assembly a day early to attend the Council Meeting and to meet up with some old friends.

The venue for the gathering was good. Transportation, hotels, dining, and shopping all within easy walking distance from the Convention Center. The Convention Center itself was rather oddly situated. Had to take escalators up four floors to get to lectures. Staff was uniformly pleasant and helpful.

Some of the issues at the Council Meeting that had the most vigorous debate seemed tangentially related to emergency medicine. If I hear one more proposed resolution about marijuana, I’m going to go postal on someone. We’re the American College of Emergency Physicians, not the American College of Emergency Potheads. If the “Joint” Commission wants to smoke marijuana during their days off, that’s their business. Don’t smoke it directly before or during your shifts and stop with all the resolutions about it. If you were in court and submitted the same topic for judicial consideration half as many times as it has been submitted to the ACEP Council, you would have been sanctioned a long time ago.
And a 25 minute debate followed by an emergency physician Council vote on breastfeeding? I’m a breastfeeding advocate and my wife has breastfed all of our kids, but how are breastfeeding rights relevant to emergency medicine? A resolution to follow state laws relating to breastfeeding is a waste of Council time. I’m just hoping that next year someone doesn’t submit a Council resolution asking that ACEP declare Britney Spears more popular than Nicki Minaj. Then again, maybe someone could submit a resolution that the ACEP Council will not consider any other resolutions relating to marijuana for the next 10 years.

ACEP Opening SessionI enjoyed the opening session. Shawn Achor was informative and entertaining. He summarized predictors of success in life including: Optimism, strong social connections/social bonds, perception of stress as a challenge and not a threat.
To create positive change, he had these suggestions:
1. Write down three new things each day for which you are grateful. Don’t have to be major things. The idea is to train your brain to look for positive things in life.
2. Doubling. Sit down for a half hour and write everything you can remember about a positive experience. Doing so helps you relive and “double” the positive experience. This trick improves ones positive outlook the fastest.
3. Exercise. Helps improve our health and shows us that intervention matters. Fifteen minutes of exercise each day is as effective as taking an antidepressant.
4. Meditation. Meditate daily for just a few minutes. We are all into multitasking. Meditating forces us to “singletask.”
5. Perform one conscious act of kindness each day. Doing so increases our social consciousness and improves our social connections. Strong social connections have a significant positive effect on our longevity.Top ACEP 2013 Influencers
His parting words were that “happiness spreads – create a ripple effect.”

Classes first day were informative. Tried to tweet pearls as much as possible. Made the top 10 list for most influential tweets, but left in the dust by @GruntDoc and @mdaware. Shout out to Team Health that provided wi-fi coverage for the meeting. The connectivity was usually quite good, although it sometimes lagged a little during peak times. My tablet kept having problems connecting which made keeping up with @GruntDoc and @mdaware even more difficult. Here are my WhiteCoat tweets from the ACEP 2013 conference.

Enjoyed the secret ED blogger dinner meeting Monday night. Always good to see old friends and catch up on the arguing and poking fun at each other.
10-17-2013 11-57-56 AM
Tuesday involved more lectures and also gave me a chance to visit the exhibits. Lots of interesting gimmicks to draw interest including the Deer Hunter video game, indoor golf, and a Chewbacca/Sasquatch emergency physician spokesperson … or perhaps it was a gruntsperson. Probably the smartest gimmick was fresh-baked cookies. A functioning oven on the exhibit floor was perhaps a little bit of a fire hazard, but the smell of cookies wafting through the air created a natural draw to find out where the smell was coming from.

ACEP 2013 Exhibit GimmicksSeveral neat innovations at the InnovatED. New Stryker wheelchairs are easy to maneuver, comfortable, but run about $2500 each. Also had some Lost in Space freaky robot chasing me around the exhibit. Neat idea, until some ticked off patient knocks it over. Not sure that this would be cost effective in many emergency departments, but if some rural areas could use it to screen suicidal patients and discharge without having to hold them in the ED for days at a time until a psych bed opens up, it may pay for itself over the long run. Monthly lease cost reportedly averages $1500 to $3000+ including IT support. Jason Wagner was also doing some demonstrations with Google Glass. Lot of hiccups in the demonstration. Have to nod your head to activate. People were doing this so often while trying out the glasses that I can see docs developing subconscious tics from using the glasses too much. Also, there can’t be any delay between verbal commands or the software resets itself. Shows some promise after you get past the HIPAA issues but I agree with @theSGEM that Google Glass just doesn’t seem ready for prime time use in emergency medicine.

InnovatED picturesOne complaint I heard from several vendors was the placement of the displays. With the exhibit floor separated by a skybridge, few people seemed to know about the other half of the exhibits. One vendor said that his company would not be back because of the low foot traffic. ACEP might consider providing vendors on the far side of the exhibit floor with some give backs to maintain goodwill with those vendors. Just a suggestion.

Got to see a couple of short “flashmob” type talks while wandering the exhibits. Angela Gardner gave an excellent synopsis of the benefits of tort reform in Texas. Quite knowledgeable on those legal topics, she is. Jason Wagner was back discussing useful apps for emergency physicians. Unfortunately many of the apps he reviewed were exclusively for Macs and iOS. Wandered away mid-lecture since I’m not a Mac fanboy anymore. Would like to have seen suggestions for Windows, Android, and even Linux (which I also use).

ACEP 2013 Lectures
Snagged a copy of Mark Plaster’s new book Night Shift – Stories from the Life of an ER Doc – a collection of his columns over the years. While visiting at the EP Monthly exhibit, Mark told me that many people stopping by the exhibit have just assumed he is “WhiteCoat.” I’m again dispelling that myth. We are not the same person. He’s much shorter and better looking than I am.

Sea-Tac Airport TSA Lines Around AirportThe trip home was a little trying. Both Sea-Tac Airport and the TSA in Seattle fell asleep at the wheel. It isn’t like they don’t have the ability to predict the volume of passengers based upon the number of flights leaving during a given time frame. Yet with a huge passenger surge and lines queuing across the entire airport (literally!), there were only two TSA lines open. But there sure were a lot of supervisors running around with walkie talkies and clipboards, though. Too bad they couldn’t have opened up another screening lane and helped move the passengers through security. I felt bad for the agents doing the screening. They maintained grace under pressure. Oh, and during the surge, the airport also shut down a runway for “inspections”. Don’t know the details of why, but the airport experience was definitely the worst part of the trip.
By the way, if you ever fly into Seattle and don’t want to pay $50 for a cab, there is a train that will take you right into the heart of the city and that costs a whopping $2.75.

Seattle ACEP 2013 Summary:

Pros: Location, Wi-Fi connectivity, courses, impromptu lectures and “genius bar”
Cons: Exhibit layout, cost ($770 is getting to be too expensive)
Overall Grade: A-

Looking forward to next year in Chicago October 27-30. Should be lots of fun.


  1. Hey WC,

    Remember the govt shutdown – that includes TSA. The people who came to work were working without getting paid. I’m sure a bunch of them “called in sick” to avoid the ridiculousness of working for free.

    Seattle airport lines are usually minimal.

  2. “Working for free” meant a 2-3 week delay in paycheck. All fed workers furloughed will be paid for
    not working. I guess you could claim, TSA should have been off as well, hence should be paid double
    time since they actually showed up.

    Seatac has one other oddity, 25% tax on car rentals. If you rent in Seattle tax is only 10%.

  3. Great insights, thanks. Agree on Council. My interest in organized med died on that vine approx two years ago. Rome burns… and we fiddle.

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