Hospitals in serious condition

Now we know why they call it a “waiting room.”

A study from Harvard today finds that the length of time one has to wait in an emergency room is increasing. The study found waiting times in ERs increased 36 percent for all patients from 1997 to 2004, which translates to an average of 30 minutes per patient. But as many as a quarter of heart attack patients had to wait 50 minutes or longer.

Are emergency rooms at the breaking point? Many hospitals are closing their emergency rooms. The ones that are opened are said to be understaffed and overwhelmed. And with cutbacks in — in Minnesota’s case — subsidized health care plans, politicians and others have warned that people without coverage will show up in ERs. Has that happened? Spokespersons for two of the largest ERs in Minnesota — Regions Hospital in St. Paul and Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis — did not return my phone calls on Tuesday.

Have you had an emergency room experience lately? Feel like sharing?

  • G-man

    Another reason for universal health care.

  • Linda

    What this post points out is the fact that we have for years hidden our “national health care system” in the finances of local hospitals and other medical centers. They write off a significant amount because patients are not insured which in turn raises the cost of health care and insurance for the insured population.

    It is indeed unfortunate that people are forced into resorting to emergency room care when they could have access to health care at a fraction of the cost.

  • Mina from MN

    I am an African American woman who is insured and have used the hospitals here and in MN. When I was in Indiana and used the hospitals there I felt a different level of comfort in my care. Can you address the anxiety that some healthcare workers may feel working with different races?