Tuesday, September 04, 2007

My Trip to the ER

One of the great unreported epidemics in America today involves tragic eggplant accidents. I sliced a dime-sized patch through two layers of skin off the left index finger last evening in the kitchen. Normally, I don't head for the hospital on such occasions--not because I'm a tough it out sort, but because I am an abject afraid of needles coward. This time, though, Peg was in the kitchen when it happened. She saw the gusher open and wouldn't take no for an answer. Luckily, the hospital is three blocks away.

I was seen fairly quickly because my hand was wrapped in a visibly reddening kitchen towel (nothing serious, but quite a bleeder. They actually glued the darn thing shut!) I also thought, though, as I looked around, that my insurance card indicating that I was fully covered might have speeded the triage process.

What struck me, though, were the people waiting in the ER. The room was quite crowded, mostly Hispanic, with a few elderly world-weary poor white people sprinkled in (in other words, not reflective of the community served by this particular hospital). I gathered that many of these people had been there for hours. They were in the ER not because of an emergency, but because by law they could not be turned away. For many of these people, this was their only access to a physician. They utilized the ER out of necessity in a grossly inefficient allocation of medical resources that seems out of place in a nation of plenty.

1 comment:

schmidlap said...

"The immediate goal is to make sure there are more people on private insurance plans. I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room." -- Chimpenf├╝hrer, July 10, 2007.