Tuesday, April 22, 2008
ER wait times--log in and check ahead
…We all know the term Emergency Department or Emergency Room does not necessarily mean an emergency.
…Sure, some patients enter in the back from a screaming ambulance, but most patients walk in the waiting room door, sent by their physicians who can’t see them that day, or because they do not have a family doctor.
…ER patients are not, as some like to depict them, illegals trying to scam the great American health care system into saving their lives or curing their colds.
…Often, after hours, when other walk-in medical venues (like store clinics or urgent care centers) are closed, the ER is it. And it is not free—despite a comment made by our current president that anyone can get health care. "Just go to the ER," he quipped.
…You can get some treatment, but it is often interim, incomplete (often specialists who have agreed to consult to the ER won’t come over), and you will be billed many bucks, believe HA on that one!
…But here in AZ, the huge obstacle is overcrowding. Waits of up to 12-13 hours are not unknown. Sometimes even if you get in, you stay there overnight or longer because there are no beds available in the main hospital (this is called boarding).
…One new wrinkle on the scene is that you can check wait times on the computer. Here, Scottsdale Healthcare has three hospitals and you can log onto www.shc.org and see how crowded the ER is.
…I just looked—two hospitals predicted an hour wait, one had no wait.
…Average waits are 4 hours nationally, five in AZ. As HA said, she has waited 12 hours several times.
…If this method of checking catches on, it will be great.
…Unfortunately, HA and her family members have perfected the technique of going at 6:30 am—around shift change. Usually no one there and the doctors are perky. Sort of.