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Is it AEC, A&EC or both?
  1. Geoff Hughes
  1. Correspondence to Professor G Hughes, Emergency Department, Royal Adelaide Hospital, North Terrace, Adelaide 5000, Australia; cchdhb{at}

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AEC stands for ambulatory emergency care and was coined as an NHS acronym in 2007 when the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement (NHSIII) published the Directory of Ambulatory Care for Adults.1 The Directory lists 49 acute presentations that can be managed without hospital admission and thus be classified as ambulatory emergency care—defined as ‘care which may include diagnosis, observation, treatment and rehabilitation not provided in the traditional hospital bed base or within the traditional outpatient services that can be provided across the primary/secondary care interface… and is for conditions that are urgent…undertaken by a competent clinical decision maker’.

The benefits to both the patient and the hospital in avoiding admission are obvious and do not need to be delineated further here.

The 49 conditions listed in the Directory are, not surprisingly, mainly ‘medical’ in nature and include deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE), cellulitis, first seizure, …

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  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.