Emergency physicians warn that E.R.s are near collapse
In an earlier entry on this site, we discussed studies that warned about the increased stress on hospital emergency rooms. The ridiculous wait involved in seeking emergency care has reached epidemic proportions in some hospitals, with sometimes fatal results. We also pointed out that the impact of these problems affects both uninsured and insured patients, as the average length of time for a suspected heart attack or stroke victim to be evaluated, for example, increases by precious minutes accross the country.
Now, the nation's 27,000 ER doctors have contributed to the concern. They note that the recent economic recession, and the additional loss of jobs and health insurance, has further stressed ERs that were already over-capacity. A government survey shows that the annual volume of visits to emergency rooms nationwide has reached 120 million--a one-third increase in a decade. Denver Health, a public hospital system, reports a 19 percent increase in the number of uninsured patients treated in just the last year.
The enormity of this problem becomes even more evident, when one considers that we are already spending almost one-fifth of all the Gross Domestic Product (that is, all the goods and services produced in the country) on health care--and we're expected to be spending one-quarter of the GDP on health care by 2025. This just cannot go on.