Hospitals Need to Resolve Emergency Room ‘Crisis,’ Los Angeles Times Says
"Nothing brings home the disparity between the nation's private economic boom and its public miserliness like the increase in hospital emergency rooms with more patients than staff or beds, emergency rooms forced to turn ambulances away," according to a Los Angeles Times editorial. The editorial points to a recent two-part Times series that reported the United States is "coming off the longest economic expansion in its history without a corresponding boom in investments that benefit the public good." The editorial states that the "crisis" in emergency care, in which once financially stable hospitals are forced to "close entirely" or "effectively eliminate beds by not staffing" them, "goes beyond inconvenience" -- it "costs lives." In the long term, the editorial calls for expanding health insurance to allow the working poor to obtain health care in facilities other than emergency rooms; recruiting more nurses and other "skilled workers in short supply"; and "answering the politically charged question of whether a need as critical as emergency health care should be left entirely to market forces." In the short term, the editorial advises hospitals to "share information and establish regional clearinghouses to get patients to the nearest hospital as quickly as possible," and to establish systems that allow the rest of the hospital to handle overflow ER patients. The editorial concludes: "In this age of medical miracles, we take emergency rooms for granted. None of us can do so any longer" (Los Angeles Times, 8/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.