Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Why Are Emergency Rooms Broken?

WaPo has a major three-clicker story on the looming failure of America's emergency room system.

Emergency medical care in the United States is on the verge of collapse, with the nation's declining number of emergency rooms dangerously overcrowded and often unable to provide the expertise needed to treat seriously ill people in a safe and efficient manner.

That's the grim conclusion of three reports released yesterday by the Institute of Medicine, the product of an extensive two-year look at emergency care.

The story never gets around to saying why this is. Yeah, it'll cost billions to fix. And oh, they're expensive to run, and demand is up, and some hospitals are closing ... but it all appears to be a massive mystery. Perhaps they should look more carefully at this paragraph:

From 1993 to 2003, the U.S. population grew by 12 percent but emergency room visits grew by 27 percent, from 90 million to 114 million. In that same period, however, 425 emergency departments closed, along with about 700 hospitals and nearly 200,000 beds.
Why should that be? There hasn't been a precipitous drop in the number of people with health insurance. In fact, many states have made it mandatory that companies provide health insurance to their employees.

Could at least part of the problem be the 8, 10 or 12 million illegals that live in the US and use emergency rooms quite a bit?

You'll not find the answer in WaPo. The words "illegal immigrant" do not appear in the story.

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