Douthat credited with establishing emergency medicine specialty
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –Rudenz “Rudy” Thomas Douthat, M.D., a West Virginia University graduate widely regarded as one of the founders of emergency medicine, will speak at WVU on Thursday, Sept. 16. His talk, part of the School of Medicine’s Grand Rounds, is entitled “Band of Brothers.”
Dr. Douthat, 81, now lives in Fredericksburg, Texas. More than four decades ago, he and several physician colleagues from Michigan and Virginia set to work establishing emergency medicine as a clinical specialty. That meant developing treatment protocols, establishing a curriculum and gaining credibility within the medical community.
According to Douthat, this process took more than 12 years and was prompted by a shortage of physicians caused by the Vietnam War. “We called ourselves The American College of Emergency Physicians,” he said.
“I was working, at the time, as director of emergency services at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This was before emergency medical services or ambulance service. Hospital staff such as surgeons, psychiatrists and general practitioners all took turns covering the emergency room. This included everything from reading X-rays to delivering babies. A local funeral home transported patients to the hospital. The ‘ambulance’ was a hearse driven by a medical student, who received free room and board for driving it,” said Douthat.
“WVU is pleased to welcome Dr. Douthat back home to West Virginia. We think he’ll be pleased with how far the specialty he fought for has come. While Dr. Douthat is our guest, we plan to tell him about WVU’s work in injury control and prevention, our regional stroke initiative and many of the other exciting programs our emergency medicine residents and faculty are involved with,” said WVU Department of Emergency Medicine Chairman Dr. Todd Crocco.
Douthat is a native of Huntington, W. Va., where his father, Lyne Douthat, taught at Marshall College. He graduated from WVU’s two-year medical school in 1952. Afterward, Dean Edward J. Van Liere, M.D, Ph.D., WVU School of Medicine dean from 1935-1960, saw Douthat’s potential and secured him a slot at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Douthat graduated in 1954.
The location of Douthat’s talk is the Department of Emergency Medicine’s conference room on the 7th floor of the WVU Health Sciences Building.