Acute care

Acute health care is meant to help patients with a severe injury or urgent medical condition that requires immediate attention. It is divided into emergency medical care and urgent care.

There are situations that clearly require emergency medical assistance: a heart attack, major bleeding, a sudden shortness of breath and others. Some other situations also require immediate urgent attention but not from an emergency medical services team – an example would be a minor injury or sudden aggravation of a chronic illness.

Both are examples where acute care is required. Acute care includes:

  • emergency medical care
  • pre-hospital emergency care
  • injury care
  • acute care surgery
  • urgent care 
  • short-term crisis stabilisation

Acute care & Human Rights

The right to receive acute care is an aspect of your right to health. As it often involves life-threatening situations, it is also linked to your right to life and also the right to private life.

About this section

In this section, you can learn what is acute care, emergency medical care and urgent care, and the difference between the latter two.

note Acute care is not the same as short-term care.

Read more about State-paid health care services in this Guide.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education