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Many reasons wait time in ER keeps increasingViews: 431
Jan 16, 2008 11:17 pmMany reasons wait time in ER keeps increasing#

Danielle (Dani) Cutler

Don’t Go To The Emergency Room When You’ve Got An Emergency

  • You know on ER and Chicago Hope when there’s a medical emergency — like, oh, we don’t know...someone’s having a heart attack — the doctors drop everything to save a patient’s life? Truth is, that’s fiction. [Washington Post]
  • A new study conducted by Harvard Medical School shows that “patients are waiting longer for care in the nation’s emergency rooms, a potentially deadly result of the shrinking number of emergency departments and rising demand for emergency services.”
  • The numbers: Half of all emergency room patients waited 30 minutes or more before being examined by a doctor in 2004, a 36 percent increase from a median wait time of 22 minutes in 1997.
  • There’s more: Even those experiencing a heart attack are not assured speedy treatment, with half waiting 20 minutes or more to be examined in 2004, up from eight minutes in 1997, the study found.
  • Need a jolt to your memory? Let us point your attention to Edith Rodriguez, a Los Angeles resident, who died waiting to be treated on the floor of Los Angeles’ Martin Luther King Jr. Harbor Hospital. [ABC]
  • So what are the reasons that people are having to wait longer in emergency rooms? For one, overcrowding. Three reports issued in 2006 by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academies, concluded that the nation’s emergency medical system is “overburdened, underfunded and highly fragmented.”
  • And, this pains us to say, the problem could also be race-based. Experts are finding that wait times tended to be longer for African Americans and Hispanics, perhaps because those patients are often treated in urban emergency departments, which are more likely to be overcrowded than their rural counterparts.
  • But the real, looming issue? A lack of health care for an unacceptable number of Americans. See, for some of the 43.6 million Americans who don’t have health insurance, the Emergency Room is the only place where patients are guaranteed treatment — by law — regardless of their ability to pay. [Mic Check]


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