Last month the Spectator reported that St. Joseph’s was “turning ER wait times times on their head” with a short but positive experiment on the initial assessment and management of low acuity patients.
This week you report that ER wait times in the Hamilton region are among the worst in the province.
What is the public to think of this apparent dichotomy?
We would suggest the following.
Firstly, there are two types of waiting in the ER: waiting to be initially seen by an emergency physician and waiting to be admitted from the ER to a hospital ward. The latter is certainly more significant because it is associated with higher costs, poorer health care outcomes and the abject human misery, of making the sick and the elderly languish in an ER hallway for a day or two waiting for a hospital bed. In either report’s circumstance, Hamilton patients do not fare well with transferring sick people to the wards.
It also raises the issue of transferrence of best practices. How can one hospital be apparently doing so well in addressing ER wait times (though that remains to be seen) and its neighbours doing so poorly. Has the LHIN no role in addressing this suggested disparity?
The issue of ER crowding is not so institutionally unique as some would have us believe. There are common problems and common solutions. If the Hamilton region’s LHIN cannot get it’s house in order, what does this say about a national resolution to this problem.
One thing is for certain, while individual hospitals and health care authorities continue to reinvent the wheel on the issue of ER crowding, patients will continue to hexperience unacceptable delays in access to care and will continue to suffer unnecessarily.
Alan Drummond MD
Letter to the Editor
Submitted to Hamilton Spectator