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The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM; the College) congratulates FACEM Associate Professor Carmel Crock who has been acknowledged with the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) on the Australia Day Honours list.

The College also congratulates Emergency Medicine Certificate trainee Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM, who as the 2021 Queensland Australian of the Year was a nominee for this year’s Australian of the Year award.

ACEM President Dr John Bonning said: “We are pleased and honoured to once again see emergency clinicians acknowledged for contributions to our specialty, medicine more broadly, education and our communities.

“We share a sense of collective pride in these deserved individual achievements and gratitude at the wonderful contributions both Associate Professor Crock and Dr Palipana have made and continue to make. On behalf of the College, I offer our warmest congratulations.”

Associate Professor Carmel Crock OAM

Associate Professor Crock was recognised with the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to emergency medicine and to medical education.

She has been a FACEM since 2005 and has held a number of College roles including Quality and Patient Safety Committee Chair and member, Quality Management Subcommittee Chair, Standards Committee member, and Specialist Training Supervisor.

In 2020 she received the prestigious international Mark L. Graber Diagnostic Quality Award for her work on diagnostic safety and quality, and reducing diagnostic error.

Associate Professor Crock is currently the Director of the Emergency Department at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

“It is a real honour, and it probably only really hit home when I received a call from Joe Epstein after it was announced. People like Joe and Allen Yuen really laid such strong foundations for our College and emergency medicine, and were great mentors to me and to many others. It occurred to me how important it is to continue building on their work. We have such respect for that work – they nurtured us and emergency medicine – and we want to protect and build on what they created, as we continue to support the next generations,” said Associate Professor Crock.

“I hope this is an opportunity to promote some of the many wonderful things about emergency medicine, as well as focussing on improvements in diagnosis. There is a lot of uncertainty in emergency medicine diagnosis, and the stakes are so high. We can work to improve diagnosis in emergency settings; by addressing overcrowding, through handovers that allow for diagnostic cross-checking and feedback from all emergency department staff, by giving trainees dedicated time to follow up the diagnosis on patients they’ve examined, and improving our communication with GPs and community-based healthcare teams.

“It’s about creating a culture of diagnostic safety in our departments, where we challenge and question each other and share uncertainty with patients, where we are aware of emergency medicine’s recurrent diagnostic error traps, and develop system-wide solutions to prevent them. These include using checklists and clinical practice guidelines.

“We really are a unique specialty as we get to work with so many of the other specialties on diagnosis. It is so collaborative, both within our teams and across other specialties. Emergency medicine is increasingly more sophisticated and standardised, which is important as this standardisation helps reduce decision fatigue.

"This is a chance to celebrate our specialty, and I am grateful for the opportunity to build on the work of others who have come before me, and supported me along the way.”

Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM

Dr Dinesh Palipana was a nominee for the Australian of the Year award after being named the 2021 Queensland Australian of the Year late last year.

He is an Emergency Medicine Certificate trainee, a non-training registrar at the Gold Coast University Hospital, and was the first quadriplegic medical graduate and intern in Queensland. He was also recently admitted as a lawyer.

As co-founder of Doctors with Disabilities Australia, Dr Palipana helped create national policies for inclusivity in the field of medicine, and in 2019 was awarded an OAM for service to medicine.

Dr Palipana also spoke as a panellist during the Equity in the Emergency Department session at ACEM’s 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting.

“This milestone reminds me of how incredibly grateful I am for life,” said Dr Palipana of the recent recognition.

“It makes me want to be better, to live to a higher standard and to give more back. I feel privileged to be able to practice medicine today.

“I am grateful to the people who were courageous enough to enable my career, particularly in our emergency department.”

You can read more on Dr Palipana’s story here.