David Loos brought his 74-year-old mother to Tennova Healthcare’s emergency room around 7 p.m. on Sept. 5, when he noticed her oxygen levels were low and worried she may have contracted COVID-19.
The pair didn’t leave the hospital until the next day. They waited for more than 15 hours in the hospital’s ER, with Loos’ mom, Phyllis, hooked up to an oxygen tank, before she was shown to a room.
“Rather if it’s ten minutes or ten hours, there’s going to be some level of frustration,” he said. “But I don’t think our healthcare system was designed for what it is seeing right now, and that’s understandable. Anyone who goes in needs to be understanding of the situation, and that this is unprecedented.
74-year-old woman on oxygen waits for 15 hours at Tennessee ER (dnj.com)
I am going to suggest that one of several reasons why ERs are suddenly “overwhelmed” is because people have not been taught that these places are for emergencies only and not for any and all medical calls.
We went from a culture that solved most minor incidents with a stern “walk it off” to one that pushes the panic button and beckons 911 if little Suzy gets a tummy ache because she downed nine Reese’s peanut butter cups and half a pound of blue Twizzlers. What used be cured with a couple of spoonfuls of cod liver oil, now “requires” several thousands dollars worth of wasted medical services and hours of personnel time.
When I worked hospitality, I saw calls to 911 for drunken puking, sunburns, rashes and even a obviously painful but not life threatening popped off toe nail. Paramedics were all very professional and behaved like champions, but privately they commented on what a waste of time these calls were. Their constant fear was that a true emergency call would come out and they were stuck with Little Pedro who got a splinter in his thumb from his cheap skateboard while mom was screaming and demanding for a Life Flight chopper.
We need to rescue some old lost skills. hell, we may need to train the new generation on how to properly apply a band-aid and to teach them not all meds come in gummy bear form for “nicer” intake.
8 thoughts on “Emergency Rooms are not McDonalds”
The ED is nowhere near as busy as it was a few years ago. This is where I sound like an old man and talk about the old days.
Back in the salad days of the early 2000’s, the ED was simply overrun. I remember that ambulance crews would arrive at the ED and there was simply no room to drop off a patient. Since it is considered abandonment for a paramedic to leave a patient without turning them over to at least the same level of care, and the hospital was too busy to accept the patient, the crews were stuck there in ED limbo because they were unable to walk away from their patient. They would sit there in the hallway with their patient still on the stretcher while waiting for an ED bed to put the patient on. We called it “holding the wall.” The longest that I ever held the wall with a single patient was 8 hours. We had crews that held the wall so often, when I was EMS supervisor, we would arrange to have meals sent to them. Frequently, EMS crews would have pizzas delivered to the ED so they could eat.
The reason for this is because, as you said, people use the ED as a primary care physician. They use them for everything under the sun. Calls that I have run 911 calls on include: Menstrual cramps, constipated for three days, a woman’s six children who had the flu (that call required 3 ambulances), and a woman who couldn’t figure out how to change her thermostat so she called 911 because it was hot inside of her house. Added to this are people who have no primary care doctor so they come to the ED for routine care (most of them are illegals), people who know the ED can’t make you pay so they use it because it is cheaper, and drug seekers who know what symptoms to fake in order to get the narcotic of their choice. (Those last are the reason why most EDs won’t proscribe narcotics. Sucks for people who legitimately need them for pain control. Blame the junkies.)
Then, sometime around 2008 or so, things got better when hospitals began building many freestanding ERs. Of course, that contributed to the shortage of nurses to staff hospitals by siphoning them away, but emergency care is a big money maker, so hospitals continue to build them.
Anyhow, that was my life back then. So many hours spent holding the wall.
As a side note, I needed a BP med refilled and called my primary care doc (who has been my doc for 25 years). He quit, closed his practice, closed the “alliance”, without any notice to anyone I can find. As screwed as the medical field is from government interference, I don’t blame him.
Divemedic hit most of it.
Part of the problem is that most ED can’t refuse a patent for payment reasons. This means that people that can’t afford a $100 urgent care trip or a $50 doctor’s office visit will go to the ED fire a $1000 bill they have no intention of paying.
I watched a show where a dude and his wife tried to live on his income from one minimum wage job. It was designed to tell you how bad the poor have it. Never mind that there were programs that would help people that were really in that situation. Hell, one trip to the food pantry would have saved them $100s.
Wife got UTI, they knew what it was, she got them from time to time. Instead of going to urgent care they went to the ER waited 4 hours, got a prescription and went home. Then complained when they got a bill for $500+
It is much worse in Canada and other socialized medical care countries. I’m told that ED wait times for non life threatening reasons can take 12 to 36 hours.
You guys said it better than me.
Ive also heard you can show up at any ol nursing home and dand care and it must be given tl you or you must be transferred by their doing somewhere else. Might be a state only thing. This is like a 5 min crafts style life hack.
I know this isn’t true in Florida, and it would surprise me to find out this is true anywhere else, since SNF (Skilled Nursing Facilities- the official name for nursing homes) aren’t staffed by doctors, and nurses can’t treat you with Dr orders. Also, SNF aren’t covered by EMTALA like an ED is.
*without Dr orders
Why would anyone eat blue Twizzlers? Especially someone with the sense to eat Reese’s peanut butter cups. 😋
Also, the reports of overcrowded hospitals rarely, if ever, mention staff quitting due to vaccine mandates. Very frustrating, but maybe we can’t handle the truth or the facts. Sigh.
What overcrowded hospitals?
Seriously. The hospital must generate revenue in order to keep the lights on. Yes, even the non-profit/charity ones. That means patients in beds. Which means an occupancy rate close to, or higher than 90%.
No hospital administration would let their hospital run at 65% capacity if they were not getting massive funding from the Feds to leave beds empty. Want to see these claims of overwhelmed hospitals disappear? Cut out the Federal funds, and make it clear no amount of complaining will restore it.
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