Monday, February 2, 2015

ER- Eventually Respond?

Hospitals make no sense.

My husband has been sick this week. We thought it was the flu, so I made him soup and herbal teas and let him rest as much as he needed. But the other night he was looking flushed. His heart rate was skyrocketing, erratic and he had a fever. Time to go to the ER.

We got into the van and...

Nothing. The battery was dead. Apparently the brake light switch was shorted out and drained the battery dry. We weren't going anywhere.

After a few calls, one of the deacons just happened to be at church at the time, right around the corner from our house. He had room for one person, so he took my husband to the ER, then came back for me. Thank You Jesus for cell phones!

I found my husband in a very crowded ER. I hate the ER. It's supposed to stand for Emergency Room, but we all know there's nothing "emergency" about it. Back in the olden days before the government got involved, you could go to an ER and get taken in right away. Now you sign in and they make you wait. Then register. Then wait. Then take your vitals. Then wait again.

We got there just before 9pm. It was now almost midnight. I went to the registration desk. I interrupted a very enthusiastic conversation about a popular magazine's article. 
"Excuse me, " I politely interrupted, "Can I ask a silly question?"
The woman sighed and gave a reluctant smile. "Sure."
I smiled to reassure her I wasn't going to"go postal" (or in this case "go ER") on her and asked "Why does it take so long to get service in the ER? It kinda defeats the purpose of 'emergency', don't you think?"
She leaned forward in her seat, folding her hands and taking the 'I'm-about-to-lay-some-knowledge-on-you-so-pay-attention' pose. "Most of the patients here aren't emergencies- that's why we take vitals beforehand. Anyone in need of immediate attention gets priority and is sent back sooner."
I nodded. "So, if someone comes in that's in dire need..."
"....will go ahead of everyone else." she finished for me.
"And how many doctors are on staff at the moment?" I asked, looking about the crowded ER.
"One right now." she replied. "We had two until ten, but after ten, only one doctor for the night shift."
I was astounded. "One? Why are you so understaffed?"
She chuckled. "We're not. Every ER is like this."
I held out my hands in exasperation. "Okay, wait a sec- let me get this straight. This is an Emergency Room."
She smiled. "Yes."
"With one doctor."
She smiled wider. "Yes."
"And a million patients."
She nodded. "That's right."
"So my husband and I will be here for a very long time."
She smiled again. "Probably."
I grinned and gestured back and forth between her and me. "Do you not see the irony in this?"
She chuckled again. "I do, but that's the way it is."
"Thank you. I'll go back to my seat now and hope we'll be called sometime before the Second Coming."
She just laughed and went back to her conversation.
I sat next to my husband and told him not to die before we got called in.

Lucky for us, we were called within an hour or two. After x-rays and blood work, we were told he had a viral infection. He was prescribed aspirin for the racing heart and told to do exactly what I've been doing this whole time. Six hours of waiting (and probably a nice sized ER bill) to be told to do what we've been doing. I'm in the wrong business.

Now we had to get home. It was almost 3:30 and his cousin he works with would be getting up for work soon. He said to call if we needed a ride home, so we did- he lost and hour of sleep but gained our eternal gratitude- it would've been a long walk home.

I think we need to re-educate the medical community. Emergency should be emergency, not "wait until you collapse before we see you" nor should it mean a six-hour wait. One woman said her husband was brought in by ambulance at 1:30 and she was still there when we arrived! He was taken in just an hour or so before because they discovered he had appendicitis. So they were in the ER even longer than we were. Apparently even being brought in by an ambulance doesn't mean it's a true emergency either. Sheesh!

I think ER's should be renamed- it should be called what people yell when they get there- AARRGH!

And they wonder why people don't like hospitals!


Post a Comment