CJEM Editorial – Dr Paul Atkinson

What Then Is Time? An Exploration of Time Perception in Emergency Medicine


In this thought provoking editorial Dr Atkinson asks us to move away from a pure Newtonian appreciation of time, e.g What is the current wait time for level 3 patients? How long did your pain last? How long since the last dose of epinephrine? He suggest that we consider the patient for whom, experiential or relative time contributes more to their memory of their visit to the ED than the actual ticking of the clock.

and concludes:

Perhaps spending the time pursuing a meeting of minds, demonstrating an understanding of concern, and providing sincere reassurance will help erase the memory of the preceding empty time. It might even improve future interactions and outcomes, for both care provider and patient. Time will tell.

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