A couple of weeks ago we had a spectacularly bad day, traumas, codes, STEMIs, septic shock, status asthmaticus, what have you, plus (of course) a department filled with
the haunted faces of the damned admitted patients and volumes of epic proportions. Faced with an angry and hostile waiting room overflowing with the walking wounded, the triage nurse made an announcement.
“Can I have your attention, please!” she shouted. “Because of four critically ill patients in the department, THERE WILL BE EXTENSIVE DELAYS TO SEE A PHYSICIAN. Thank you for your understanding.”
Ten patients immediately got up and left.
I know patients come to an emergency department for reasons the health care professionals treating them might question, and that what we consider to be an emergency often diverges wildly from how a patient might perceive it. Nevertheless — I’m thinking, maybe, for those patients it wasn’t that much of an emergency, and just maybe, their GP or (God forbid) a walk-in clinic might have been a better option and better use of health care resources.