Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Longer wait times for emergency care…impossible in California.

posted by Bill Arnett @ 3:12 PM Permalink

From washington post.com:
[…]Harvard Medical School [reports][…]

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, according to the study, published today in the journal Health Affairs.

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. The same was true for those with other serious health problems: By 2004, patients whose conditions warranted treatment within 15 minutes were waiting 14 minutes or more to see a doctor, up from 10 minutes in 1997, the study found.
I don't know where from comes their information as to wait times, but I defy you to come to California and try to be seen in time periods this short. I know, I've had my share of ER encounters.

In 1992 I fractured my right wrist in six places and waited in the ER at UC Davis Hospital in Sacramento for over twelve HOURS before the Filipina Warrior Woman I had the good fortune to marry literally stepped in front of a nurse four times her size and refused to let her pass without giving me something for the intense pain I was suffering. After the nurse shot me up with morphine my wife refused to budge until a doctor came and treated me, which happened amazingly quickly after this confrontation. (Mila weighs 105 lbs soaking wet and is just barely 5 feet tall, but she sure spooked the hell out of the over 6' 2", 230 lb nurse.)

I know this injury was not life threatening so I had expected to wait, but over twelve hours! Ridiculous.

Same hospital, two years later, an ambulance brings me in from a motorcycle accident (I totaled my motorcycle on the front of a 1963 pick-up truck that turned left directly into my path) with a paralyzed left leg and various scrapes and scratches. 16 hours later the feeling returned to my leg, I got up off the gurney that some nurse had parked me on in a hallway and walked out of the hospital without ever seeing a doctor, laughing my a$$ off at the thrill of just knowing I was still alive, and THAT'S when I guess they felt the ER had some legal responsibilities they hadn't fulfilled and tried to stop me.

I sicced my Warrior Woman on 'em and they quickly let me go. There's just something about Mila, my wife, that, as tiny as she is, just intimidates the hell out of doctors.

Nine days laying flat on my back interrupted only by a daily 20-minute sunshine break, Mila almost carrying me out there and back, and I healed up just fine. (When my attorney settled out of court with all the parties, including the hospital, he turned to me, told me there was a question he just had to ask. I said sure, ask away. He then told me that for the first week after the accident I had been under 24-hour surveillance by two different private investigators and what he wanted to ask was, "Both reports say you never exited your apartment except when your wife helped you outside for short breaks sitting in the sun, that you would sit there laughing for about twenty minutes, and then Mila helped you back inside, not to be seen again for the rest of the day. And I've just GOT to know what you were sitting there laughing about." I told him that the totaled motorcycle had been dragged to my apartment and was chained to a telephone pole out front. I was laughing because every time I looked at it I realized, "I'm alive and the motorcycle was not!")

Thanks for bearing with me, if you did, because I know these two incidents are hardly comparable to a study by the Harvard Medical School (I personally owe them a great debt of gratitude for properly identifying the two cancers I had that were supposed to be impossible to have together in the same location, and backed it up with a 1,200 page pathology report that blew my doctors away), but in the many encounters I have had with California ERs, besides these two, I never saw ANY patient attended to in such short times.

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