As its name suggests, quickEM is a new emergency medicine app with the goal of providing interns, medical students, and rotators with a time-saving reference tool for working up common ED complaints. The app was developed by Dr. William Dirkes, an EM resident, with the hopes of helping those new to the ED setting get an idea of the differential, initial workup, and EM thought process. This concept/model may sound familiar and that’s because iMedicalApps recently reviewed EMRA’s Basics of EM, a highly touted and battle-tested rapid reference guide. We wrote how Basics of EM is an essential download for Emergency Medicine clerkship rotations and EM residents and rotators.  For those familiar with Basics of EM (read our review), I will try to point out differences between the apps throughout the app review.

User Interface


On the bottom of the home screen you can easily access the following sections: adult chief complaints, pediatric chief complaints, calculator/decision rules, tips, and general settings. The adult chief complaint section is organized by anatomic locations. Just looking at volume of chief complaints available, quickEM provides 32 common complaints compared to the 20 available on Basics of EM. Each CC provides a differential diagnosis, critical history questions, critical physical exam maneuvers, lab/radiology tests, treatment options, disposition, and clinical pearls.


The differential diagnosis section includes a list of both common and life threatening diagnoses and, depending on the CC, the diagnoses may be further separated by organ systems. From a quick reference standpoint, the list is comprehensive and covers most, if not all, life threatening illnesses that need to be ruled out while including the most likely causes. Selecting a diagnosis will transfer you to the corresponding WikiEM page that can be referenced for additional information.

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The critical history, physical exam, and tests sections are more extensive than Basics of EM – the extra content is all useful and pertinent. In fact its more detailed content may prove more beneficial to medical students and rotators who need more guidance. The biggest drawback of these sections is format/presentation-related, which happens to be one of the biggest strengths of Basics of EM. In Basics of EM, the content is laid out in an algorithm made to mimic an ED physician’s thought process for a workup and additionally provides history and physical exam findings in a convenient table. The User Interface of QuickEM is more cumbersome and not as easy to use in this regard.

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The treatment section is separated by diagnosis and includes both medications and dosing, an improvement from what is provided in Basics of EM. The “Pearls” section provides useful clinical reminders to keep in mind when working up your patient.

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The “pediatric chief complaint” section is organized by age, but otherwise the information provided under each CC follows the same format as for adults.

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The “Calc” section contains some of the common decision rules you may need to use to assess a patient, such as the NEXUS criteria for c-spine clearance post trauma. One downside is that there is no true “decision calculator” in that the scoring is not automated through responses to the criteria.

The “Tips” section provides medical students with a how-to guide to present a patient and provides interns with drug dosing for medications used in shock, ACLS, PALS, airway emergencies, and cardiac emergencies.

Who would benefit from the app?

  • Rotating third and fourth year medical students
  • EM interns
  • Off-service rotating residents
  • PAs, NPs, and nurses
  • Price
    • Free
    • Easy to navigate
    • More chief complaints and greater content than Basics of EM
    • Dosing included with recommended medications
    • Contains pediatric chief complaints
  • Dislikes
    • Design does not allow for the quickest consumption of information
    • Calc section only has one MDCalc emergency medicine-related algorithm, others have to be calculated by hand
    • Content is the opinion of the single physician designer, and to my knowledge has not been vetted by any EM organizations (although the content that has been reviewed by iMedicalApps has been appropriate)
  • Overall

    QuickEM is a fantastic tool for medical students rotating through Emergency Medicine, off service residents, and new EM interns. The app contains ample content on common chief complaints seen in the adult and pediatric emergency department, while maintaining the ability to be used as a quick reference tool before entering a patient’s room. While QuickEM provides more content than its rival app, Basics of EM, it fails to measure up with Basics of EM on other fronts.  The app could benefit from improvements in the design/layout and more multimedia usage. Basics of EM makes great use of an easy-to-digest algorithm format, US training videos, MDCalc for decision rules, and has been approved by EMRA.  With some basic design and multimedia changes, QuickEM has the potential to be a great EM tool.  As long as QuickEM remains free in the current iteration,  it’s definitely worth a download.

  • Overall Score
  • User Interface

    Easy to use and navigate.

  • Multimedia Usage

    No extensive use of multiple forms of media.

  • Price


  • Real World Applicability

    As an M4 interested in EM I can confidently say quickEM is a practical tool to have on-hand for quick reference in the ED setting.

  • Device Used For Review

    iPhone 5

  • Available for DownloadAndroidiPhoneiPad