Top of the Morning

Top of the morning

A recent report from a widely respected research organization finds that wait times for medical care are long and that patients can’t go the hospital closest to them because of overcrowding.

Sounds like some of the talking points critics of the Canadian health care system always use. But the report is from the Government Accountability office (.pdf) and it is about emergency care in the United States, not elective surgery in Canada.

The GAO found that 73 percent of emergency room patients who needed immediate care had to wait half an hour to be seen once they arrived at the hospital. That’s a long time to wait if you are having a heart attack.

Patients who needed emergency care, for which the recommended time frame for treatment is 1-14 minutes, had to wait almost 40.

Two out of every three city hospitals reported asking ambulances to bypass their emergency room and take patients to another facility.

The GAO also found that the unavailability of inpatient beds was a major reason why emergency rooms were overcrowded.

One reason for a lack of access to inpatient beds is competition between hospital admissions from the emergency department and scheduled admissions-for example, for elective surgeries, which may be more profitable for the hospital.

Another reason cited by the report for crowded emergency rooms was patients’ lack of access to primary care services.

Remind me again how our health care system is working so well.

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