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Published by ACAD EMERG MED • May 2008, Vol. 15, No. 5 •


The chief complaint (CC) is the data element that documents the patient’s reason for visiting the emergency department (ED). The need for a CC vocabulary has been acknowledged at national meetings and in multiple publications, but to our knowledge no groups have specifically focused on the requirements and development plans for a CC vocabulary. The national consensus meeting ‘‘Towards Vocabulary Control for Chief Complaint’’ was convened to identify the potential uses for ED CC and to develop the framework for CC vocabulary control. The 10-point consensus recommendations for action were 1) begin to develop a controlled vocabulary for CC, 2) obtain funding, 3) establish an infrastructure, 4) work with standards organizations, 5) address CC vocabulary characteristics for all user communities, 6) create a collection of CC for research, 7) identify the best candidate vocabulary for ED CCs, 8) conduct vocabulary validation studies, 9) establish beta test sites, and 10) plan publicity and marketing for the vocabulary.

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