Emergency medicine pioneer receives Health Research Foundation Medal of Honour

November 22, 2017

When Dr. Ian Stiell first trained as an emergency physician, treatment decisions were based more on tradition than on evidence. Dr. Stiell wanted to change this, so he embarked on a research career that has transformed emergency medicine not only in Canada, but around the world. His remarkable achievements were recently recognized with the Health Research Foundation Medal of Honour.

Dr. Stiell is known around the world for his clinical decision rules for diagnosing ankle, knee, spine and head injuries. These rules have helped reduce unnecessary medical imaging, while also improving patient care and reducing wait times. They are now available in the popular Ottawa Rules app, available in the App Store and on Google Play.

Dr. Stiell and his colleagues have also developed risk scales for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart failure. These scales help doctors decide which patients should be admitted to the hospital, and which can safely be sent home.

Working with first responders, Dr. Stiell also helped establish the benefits of bystander CPR for cardiac arrest.

“As a young emergency physician, I was simply taught to do what the doctors before me did,” said Dr. Stiell. “There was very little evidence to guide treatment decisions. Now, research is embedded in everything we do at The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa, and patients both here and around the world are benefitting.”

Dr. Stiell leads the Emergency Medicine Research Group at The Ottawa Hospital and is a distinguished professor at the University of Ottawa.

Dr. Stiell’s research is possible because of generous support for Research to Improve Patient Care at The Ottawa Hospital. Dr. Stiell has also received support from the University of Ottawa, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement and the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario.

The Ottawa Hospital: Inspired by research. Driven by compassion

The Ottawa Hospital is one of Canada’s largest learning and research hospitals with over 1,100 beds, approximately 12,000 staff and an annual budget of over $1.2 billion. Our focus on research and learning helps us develop new and innovative ways to treat patients and improve care. As a multi-campus hospital, affiliated with the University of Ottawa, we deliver specialized care to the Eastern Ontario region, but our techniques and research discoveries are adopted around the world. We engage the community at all levels to support our vision for better patient care. See for more information about research at The Ottawa Hospital.

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