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Emergency Room Overcrowding
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
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In this episode:

More people using the emergency room means longer wait time


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36:51 minutes (17.69 MB)
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Visits to emergency rooms are up more than 25 percent in just the last decade, according to a new report by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More people using the emergency room means longer wait time - up to nearly an hour, and with more people getting their primary care in ERs, it means hospitals are having trouble dealing with real emergencies.

Some point to a lack of primary care physicians - and even a shrinking number of hospital emergency departments.

Today Where We Live, a look inside these numbers and what they mean for the health care industry.

Join the conversation! Add your suggestions, questions and comments below.

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Emergency Room Visits

I live in West Hartford and I would never go to Hartford hospital or St
Francis emergency rooms if I can help it. You will sit and wait for hours
to get seen. A few years ago a family member was assaulted and brought to
Hartford hospital. The treatment and care was horrible. When I asked when
my family member would be able to get a room I was threatened with arrest.
We left and my family member saw his PCP the next day.

The few times I have needed emergency room since then, I have gone or taken
individuals to Dempsey. We had another family member waiting at
Manchester memorial for hours to be seen for what they had diagnosed as an
ear infection a few days earlier. We took her out of there and brought her
to Dempsey where she was seen immediately and diagnosed with a neck injury.
City hospitals have some serious issues in how they conduct business.

Dempsey is a facility that needs to be kept open.

Peter Kurimay

Emergency Department Overcrowding

I am the past president and current government affairs chairperson of the Connecticut chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians. I have several comments to make concerning ED crowding. First and foremost, I would like to dispel misinformation concerning the causes of ED crowding and delays. Certain sources would like the public to believe that the reason for crowding is the extensive use of emergency departments for primary care. This is simply not the case. The primary cause of crowding and delays is the practice of boarding admitted patients in the emergency department long after they have ceased to be emergency patients. These inpatients, who should be upstairs in a room or a secondary inpatient holding area, instead remain for hours (sometimes days in the case of adolescent psychiatric patients) in the rooms and hallways of the emergency department where they compete with newly arrived emergency patients for space and personnel time. In Connecticut, ACEP has made solving the crowding problem its top priority for several years. We have hit a brick wall. The Department of Public Health not only refuses to force hospitals to get boarders out of the emergency department, they refuse to even use the term "boarders."

We readily concur that a large portion of our business concerns conditions that are not "true emergencies." We are fine with that. The great majority of these cases can be taken care of in a short amount of time following which the patient is discharged and we go on to the next case. If we have more acutely injured or ill patients, we tend to them first and the low acuity case waits in the waiting room. Making sure that "the emergency room only gets used for true emergencies" is not a valid goal. We have a very high overhead to staff and equip our ED's, and there are not enough "true emergencies" to provide the revenue necessary to keep the doors open. We actually rely on non-emergent cases to keep us busy and provide revenue to pay the bills so we can be ready for the patients who are in dire need of emergency medical treatment.

Phil Brewer, MD
Government Relations Chair and Past President, COnnecticut COllege of Emergency Physicians