The following is an unpublished letter to the Winnipeg Free Press in response to today’s article on the WHRA attempting to reduce ED wait times by convincing patients to go else where using a media blitz.
Another misguided attempt to solve a problem by the wrong means. Patient with non-urgent illness are not the root cause of ER crowding. That issue resides solely with either an inappropriate number of acute care beds to meet the needs of a rapidly ageing population, an inappropriate bed utilization and better chronic care.
I simply shake my head. How many times does the WRHA have to be on the front page of the national news with their tepid, dysfunctional approach to crowding.
Crowding matters; it kills innocents.
“Advertising blitz to reduce ER wait times”
For close to ten years I have been following the WRHA’s attempts to solve emergency department crowding and I am constantly amazed at how they can get it so consistently wrong.
Crowded emergency departments are either a result of crowded hospitals due to an insufficient number of acute care beds to meet the needs of a sick and aging population or from the inappropriate utilization of the available beds.
Crowded ERs having nothing to do with overutilization of the departments by patients with non-urgent problems. These patients require little treatment time, little clinical resources and they do not impact on adverse outcomes.
It is the patient waiting in a crowded ER hallway waiting for a bed on the ward who suffers the most both in terms of basic human dignity and the increased risk of medical complicatioins and death. It is this wait time that is the most important and it is on these patients that the WHRA should focus their time and money.
How many more high profile deaths must the WHRA face before they start to get the issue right and the problem solved?
Alan Drummond MD