With two prior deployments to Afghanistan as well as (until recently) a full-scope family medicine practice, I have always been interested in urgent care and emergency medicine apps to improve my own patient care. I have previously reviewed a number of apps for both peds and adult emergencies, including Pedi STAT, PalmPedi, BluCard, Pedi Crisis, Paediatric Emergencies, NRP, ERRes, and most recently R.E.B.E.L. EM.

You can find our top 10 emergency medicine apps here. We’re also big fans of evidence-based medicine (EBM), and you’ll find many of my past app reviews focus on EBM apps or apps that apply EMB at the point of care.

In the past, iMedicalApps.com has praised EM groups like R.E.B.E.L. EM and Life in the Fast Lane for their use and integration of EBM into their apps, blogs, websites, and podcasts. They make a number of useful and free resources that are part of their FOAM (Free Open Access Meducation) network. We are also fans of app developer ESCAVO for their sepsis apps: ESCAVO Sepsis and Sepsis Timer. But until recently, I didn’t realize they also made an evidence-based emergency medicine app called, The Chief Complaint (The CC). Boy, am I glad I found this app!

The CC comes from Dr. Chris Feier, MD, PharmD, an emergency medicine doc at LA County and Keck School of Medicine of USC. He has worked with ESCAVO to take his popular pocket book and bring it to a very easy-to-use, point-of-care emergency medicine app. His focus is to help students, residents, and other EM or urgent care providers properly work-up the undifferentiated patient. As he astutely states in the forward to the app: Patients don’t walk in the door wearing a nametag that says “mesenteric ischemia of the superior artery distribution,” they say their “belly hurts.” The CC uses a combination of easy-to-follow algorithms for each complaint along with a more in-depth, step-by-step approach. What really excites me about the app is the way the authors tie in emergency and evidence-based medicine resources from the NNT, EM RAP, and Essentials of Emergency Medicine as well as over 450 references into nearly every portion of the app.

Video Review

Evidence-based medicine

The app consists of peer-reviewed core topics in emergency medicine approached from a differential diagnosis, undifferentiated patient, chief complaint perspective. The app contains an algorithm for each complaint followed by a detailed step-by-step approach. In each step, the app includes numerous (mostly) up-to-date references, guidelines, and links to well-regarded EBM resources like The NNT, EM RAP, Essentials of Emergency Medicine, etc. The app literally teaches as it goes through each complaint. The CC also has a high-yield drug guide, EBM EM centric calculators, and references and links to PubMed.

Who would benefit from this emergency medicine app?

Any healthcare provider who works in emergency medicine and/or urgent care including students, mid-levels, EM and FM providers.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

  • Price
    • Free
    • Easy to navigate interface with well-defined categories
    • Robust EBM resources built into the app including NNT, guidelines, EM RAP, etc
    • Free
    • Available for Android
  • Dislikes
    • Some references and guidelines out of date
    • Only contains information on a limited number of EM differential diagnoses
    • Some linked resources require paid subscriptions (EM RAP for example)
    • Some algorithms challenging to read on a mobile device
  • Overall

    The Chief Complaint app joins a long line of outstanding EM apps, including R.E.B.E.L. EM and the numerous offerings from the EMRA. It’s is probably the most fun to use since it inherently teaches while you are using it. The numerous references and built-in EBM resources really takes it to another level. It won’t replace your EM reference textbook book or UpToDate/Dynamed Plus, but it will become your initial go-to for undifferentiated patients in the ER or urgent care.

  • Overall Score
  • User Interface

    Fast interface with all the usability expected from ESCAVO, but this time they have outdone themselves with links and resources baked into the app on every screen.

  • Multimedia Usage

    The app is one of the most robust I have seen in years with fantastic expandable algorithms, over 450 references, links to evidence-based websites, podcasts, guidelines, etc.

  • Price

    App is free (though some of the EBM resources it links to are not).

  • Real World Applicability

    The Chief Complaint app will be one of most used apps for trainees and EM staff, young and old, who are looking for an easy-to-use app for evaluating the undifferentiated patient. The app could only be improved if some of the current references/guidelines were updated and perhaps several sections expanded. Highly recommended.

  • Device Used For Review

    iPhone 8 running iOS 11.2.1

  • Available for DownloadAndroidiPhoneiPad