SOURCE: Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants

Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants

Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants

August 31, 2011 09:00 ET

Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants (SEMPA) Joins Global Collaboration of Specialist Organizations in "HAE: Learn About It, Talk About It," Educational Program Aimed at Advancing Care for Patients With Hereditary Angioedema (HAE)

New Podcast Episode on Showcases SEMPA's Commitment to Educating Providers About the Impact of HAE in Emergency Medicine

IRVING, TX--(Marketwire - Aug 31, 2011) - Emergency medicine providers can commonly be the first to see patients with hereditary angioedema (HAE), a rare and potentially fatal swelling disorder. In recognition of the role they can play in improving care for patients with HAE, the Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants (SEMPA) has joined a growing global collaboration of professional organizations in "HAE: Learn About It, Talk About It," a peer-to-peer clinician education program aimed at improving the accurate diagnosis and appropriate management of HAE.

The burden of HAE on patients is substantial, with approximately 15,000 to 30,000 emergency department visits a year attributed to the disease. One survey estimated total annual medical costs in 2007 to range from $14,000 for a mild case of HAE to more than $96,000 for a severe case. Hospital costs account for 67 percent of direct medical costs associated with the disease. HAE is a rare disease, with about 6,000 patients in the United States living with the disease, and early recognition in the emergency setting is critical to avoid unnecessary procedures, minimize the risk of mortality, and put patients on the path to appropriate management faster; alarmingly, nearly 70 percent of patients with HAE are initially misdiagnosed, and the time between a first HAE attack and accurate diagnosis is approximately 10 years.

"Awareness and education about HAE among emergency medicine providers is incredibly important, because they can be the first line of contact for patients presenting with swelling attacks," said SEMPA President Elect Natalie Schmitz, MMSc, PA-C. "For patients with HAE, the lack of awareness of the disease among diagnosticians can be frustrating and dangerous. Because HAE symptoms can mimic other conditions, patients may have to undergo courses of treatment that will be futile, and valuable time can be wasted with trial and error."

HAE is a rare and potentially fatal swelling disorder characterized by severe, painful, and recurrent attacks of angioedema that can occur anywhere in a person's body. Acute attacks of abdominal pain accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, might be diagnosed as appendicitis, bowel ischemia, or inflammatory bowel disease. Laryngeal swelling or subcutaneous swelling may be considered histamine induced. As a result, emergency medicine providers may see patients presenting with symptoms that mimic other diseases, making HAE difficult to diagnose.

"SEMPA joined 'HAE: Learn About It, Talk About It' to help educate emergency medicine providers about the presentation of this debilitating disease in emergency medicine and to encourage providers to keep hereditary angioedema in their differential diagnoses," commented Michelle Parker, executive director of SEMPA.

Kicking off the educational offerings for emergency medicine providers is a new podcast episode on, in which Dr. Sandra Schneider, Professor of Emergency Medicine, University of Rochester, and President of the American College of Emergency Physicians, delivers insights about how emergency medicine providers can recognize a patient with HAE and delivers an emergency medicine case study. SEMPA also hosted an educational booth as part of their commitment to HAE education at the organization's Annual Conference earlier this year.

About "HAE: Learn About It, Talk About It"
"HAE: Learn About It, Talk About It" is a clinician education program aimed at uniting disparate specialties that see patients with HAE to improve patient care through increased awareness and education, more timely diagnosis, and appropriate disease management. The core component of this program is an informational and interactive Website -- www. -- which provides health care providers with the tools they need to more readily diagnose symptoms and properly manage HAE.

The Website features targeted content for various specialties that may see patients presenting with HAE symptoms, as well as several educational resources, including a podcast series, application for iPhone mobile digital device, archived Webinar, videos from HAE-treating clinicians, and case studies. also features a tool where clinicians can find a local HAE-treating allergist/immunologist or can register as an HAE-treating allergist/immunologist. For more information, visit

"HAE: Learn About It, Talk About It" is a growing collaboration among the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute, the World Allergy Organization (WAO), the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), the Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants (SEMPA), and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). The program is supported by ViroPharma Incorporated.

SEMPA is the exclusive professional organization representing physician assistants in emergency medicine. SEMPA works to continually support the professional, clinical and personal development of emergency medicine physician assistants. The organization also works to educate the public about the role, importance and value of physician assistants in the emergency department. SEMPA members are men and women from all walks of life who practice emergency medicine in urban trauma centers, academic medical centers, suburban and rural hospitals and urgent care centers in the United States and around the globe. To learn more, visit