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About this Core Competency
Learning Objectives

Myocardial infarction, pneumonia and heroin overdose are examples of “diagnoses” that can be confirmed in the Emergency Department. The term "syndrome" refers to a combination of symptoms, risk factors, physical findings and test results that together speak for a pathophysiological condition that can be managed in a specific manner, even though the diagnosis is yet unclear. Acute coronary syndrome, sepsis, and opioid toxidrome are examples of syndromes. Diagnoses and syndromes are jointly referred to as "conditions" hereafter.

The conditions that are of primary focus in Emergency Medicine are time-sensitive conditions, e.g., those for which timely treatment, within the scope of hours to days, impacts on morbidity and mortality. Acute coronary syndrome, anaphylaxis, sepsis, severe hyperkalaemia and spinal epidural abscess are examples of such conditions.

Conditions for which treatment does not impact upon morbidity and mortality are not of primary focus in Emergency Medicine. Lung cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are examples of such conditions.

Emergency physicians should:

• Know the risk factors for the condition in order to be able to assess its pre-test probability.
• Know the condition's possible presenting symptoms, signs and situations.
• Be able to estimate the likelihood that the patient is suffering from the condition based on the history, physical findings and point-of-care test results.
• Know how to initially manage, within the realm of emergency medicine, patients potentially suffering from these conditions, including being able to estimate the risks and benefits of various investigations and treatments for the individual patient.
• Know whom to contact for patient management outside the realm of Emergency Medicine and how to manage transfer of care.

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