• emergency departments;
  • public health;
  • surveillance systems

Abstract. Emergency departments (EDs) are well positioned to provide national data on several aspects of public health. The large volume of patients seen annually, improving medical record technology, and emergency uniform data sets make the development of public health surveillance systems a realistic opportunity for emergency medicine. Such data could identify public health concerns and suggest interventions to improve the health of the nation. This article describes current concepts and status of ED surveillance systems, their advantages and disadvantages, the rationale for their existence, and recommendations to allow their continued consideration and development.