ER – CRITICAL ENCOUNTER OR DEATH IN FRONT OF YOUR EYES

After yesterday, castMD must speak out again.

The Emergency Departments are at a break point. A year or so ago, almost 3/4 of all medical directors said their ER has inadequate specialist on-call backup! There are fewer specialists in general surgery being trained, and neurosurgeons are at a standstill in training numbers. Many of the ortho, neuro, and plastic surgeons are older and not being replaced in numbers.

Yet the numbers of ER patients is exploding in numbers. Many patients are uninsured, underinsured, and have serious illnesses and injuries. ERs must see, triage, treat, and plan for each one without asking for a dime upfront. Declining reimbursement with increasing costs is a martial arts contest in the ERs. EMTALA dictates ERs must see everyone! The on-call specialist to the emergency doctors have high liability with these patients. Some specialty groups have stated one third of their groups have been sued by patients that they have responded to in the ER patient's time of greatest need.

Many ERs have closed, and more will. Many hospitals cannot continue to absorb the see all and sue all patients under the mandated-free care system. It is broken, and yesterdays marches reminded me. No one should be turned away in a critical time of health-need, but the system is critical now.

Washington State did not pass tort reform. Why work there? Why be on call to an ER that will lead the doctor to critical patients with high malpractice risk? You wonder why doctors quit being "on-call" to trial attorneys. Oh, did the drycleaners mistake settle for the 60+ million yet?

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