Tuesday, January 15, 2008

it's an emergency

Contrary to de facto President George W. Bush's misconception, the emergency room isn't just the place of last resort for our uninsured - it is by design the place you go for urgent medical care, you know if you are having a heart attack or choking on a pretzel.

So it's disconcerting to see that the average waits in our emergency rooms are growing longer.

Half of heart attack patients wait 20 minutes to see a doctor. When you're heart's going haywire, that's a long time.

So what's the story? The Institute of Medicine says that our emergency medical care system is "overburdened, underfunded and highly fragmented."

Overburdened - that's in part because some people who don't have access to insurance go to the emergency room when whatever ails them gets too bad to ignore.

Underfunded - that's because it's not as profitable as boob jobs, laser surgery or lyposuction.

Our health care system needs work. We have great doctors and great hospitals, but a shitty way of actually paying for everything - and it shows in emergency care, too.



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