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How does your ER rate?

By January 1, 2009 - 9:39pm
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A few years ago, when my youngest daughter was three years old, she slipped while in the shower and the back of her head landed really hard against the edge of a shelf in the shower. There was much blood, screaming and then a scary unresponsiveness, and I was completely terrified that she was going to be brain damaged. Her dad and I scooped her up and took off for the nearest ER. Our time spent in the waiting room ended up being a miserable, scary seven hours.

I recently read an article in The Arizona Republic that this same hospital, Chandler Regional, has streamlined its ER intake process, allowing some patients to be treated and discharged within 30 to 45 minutes. Now, there is a doctor stationed at the front, making decisions on whether or not a patient needs to be seen immediately on a new "fast track" course or simply treated with meds while in the waiting room. Apparently this new streamlined process has started at Mercy Gilbert as well.

I'm wondering if this is becoming a new trend among hospitals and if anyone has noticed a change in the amount of time spent in the ER.

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Kristin, I'm so glad your daughter was OK. That sounds frightening and incredibly frustrating. I cannot imagine that 7 hours for your family -- it must have felt like 70. I am so surprised that a possibly serious concussion -- in a child, no less -- was made to wait for care for that long.

In reading about ER wait times on the web, I came across this from an NBC report:

"Between 1993-2003, the number of U.S. emergency departments fell by about 425, or about 12 percent, while the number of patients seeking ER care jumped 26 percent to 114 million. They include uninsured or underinsured patients and those who seek emergency care for non-emergencies because they have no regular doctor."

Emergency rooms for the last decade or two have taken the brunt of America's dwindling health care. People without insurance must use minor emergency centers or ERs for all their health care, so a place that used to be confined to immediate needs now also deals with colds, flu and earaches on the one hand, and chronic illness on the other hand, both of which are probably handled by a family doctor when a family has insurance. That overrun of sick folks clogs an emergency room so badly that some cases like yours sit and wait forever.

Here's the whole NBC story, which discusses the newer trend of ERs assigning triage nurses to meet incoming patients and make decisions as to their urgency:


One site also said that if you do have a regular doctor, call that doctor when you're on the way to the ER. They can call before you get there (and even meet you if it's needed).

January 5, 2009 - 10:04am
EmpowHER Guest

It pays to talk to your friends and find out BEFORE you have an emergency which hospital to head to (if you are fortunate enough to have several in your area).

In our area, we have a wide range of levels of service - you should know which are good and which aren't.

January 2, 2009 - 10:04am

Kristin, How frightening that must've been for you. Fortunately, I haven't been to an ER in about three years and while I understand that wait times are relative to one's ailment or injury -- six or seven hours -- which is what I've waited -- seems ridiculous. It seems to me that your daughter bumping her head and the following unresponsiveness should've fallen into a much lower wait time or no wait time at all.

I'm glad to hear that your ER has taken measures to streamline the process.

On a positive note, when I broke my foot three years ago (the last time I was in an ER) I was admitted immediately. I didn't sit in the waiting room for one minute. Once I filled out the paperwork, I was scooped up in a wheelchair by an attendant and wheeled back to a doctor who, for working New Year's Eve had a great sense of humor. He was really wonderful and poked a little fun at me for my injury which was absolute clumsiness on my part. He was right on in determining what I was in for -- telling me I would definitely need surgery and about three or four months on crutches with about two to three months of physical therapy. So I guess you can say this was a positive experience as far as emergency rooms go.

January 2, 2009 - 6:53am
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