24 Hours in the ER: Health care's front lines

24 Hours in the ER: Health care's front lines



I was gone for a few seconds they all shocked me and revived me when I came back – everything was solid white gradually got my hearing back and heard what they were saying this is mr. Berk he's 35 years old onset of chest pain this morning it was like angels the modern emergency room is the front lines of the healthcare battle then gradually got my vision back as the debate over health care reform rages in America one fact is not in dispute Americans enjoy one of the highest levels of care in the world three and thirty five-year-old log of Roger Burke went into cardiac arrest he was rushed to the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville Virginia where state-of-the-art cardiac care was available early my career our patients that came in with heart attacks who really had nothing to offer them other than watching them observing them making sure they didn't have some arrhythmia give me a medicine check what's he got so far now we have gone – we have acute interventions where we could take somebody to the cath lab within 90 minutes of arrival we want medicines in and we want him down at the cath lab the USA Today Gallup poll found that four in ten people have visited an ER in the past year millions of those patients will show up without insurance I think you know I'm dr. Baltar who's going on no two days are exactly alike here at the University of Virginia will start to see about 10 to 12 new patients per hour starting around 10:00 to noon that pace continues throughout the day and starts to wane around 11 p.m. or midnight you never know what's gonna walk in the doors yeah hurry up finish up so you can go home Michaela sometimes we get kids that come in with spells sometimes they have seizures she was so pale and yeah it just wasn't responding so that's when I call because like something's not right dr. opponent expansion jutsu are you sure I didn't want to just jump up and give a locust no he didn't get me kiss y'all and he's all grumpy it's all grumpy and he chewed on you huh it's got seven oh six achieve it she's gonna start bustin live another job the best thing about US health care is whether it works it works very well patients have access to really the the greatest technology she's safe and sound she's doing well and they were talking about trying to take the breathing today good job she's doing great hey your breath this gentleman seems to be in a lot of pain the technology has changed dramatically when I first started out we can take a single slice of the body in about seventy nine seconds and now we can take several thousand images within a few seconds time advanced diagnostic tools come at a price who pays that price is the question from dog bites to heart attacks 24 hours in the ER gives us a snapshot of the complexities of the healthcare situation in America it won't hurt okay it's like jelly yeah like jellyfish exactly but it has some medicine in there in the following chapters we listen to health care professionals and their patients to gain their perspective on this national debate your clear departure the worst thing about the US healthcare system from my perspective is the number of uninsured patients that we have Debra Griffin is one of those uninsured so I'm going to be here another two hours waiting visits the ER two to three times each month for chronic abdominal pain and has accrued over 60,000 dollars in emergency room bills since January we don't even know if they're insured or not until well into their visit at this moment I'm very disappointed with the way our health care system is I am not happy with any part of our health care system you have to decide whether you want to eat and pay your rent or pay a doctor back they'll present out of desperation with conditions that could have been contained or could have been treated at much earlier stage I had a tooth pulled weeks ago is think I really bad no kind of insurance some my job offers nothing like that I work on the farm down in Nelson County it's minimum wages don't hardly pay the bills that we have now unless that's a hospital bill I say tonight's probably run through 250 maybe 300 which I mean I know it's not much business morning without on the floor right now Donald Johnson has had diabetes for 44 years I think my blood sugar is gonna pop up here yeah that's us did the diet one I don't know how anyone could afford the coverage that I have and the coverage is high for four is higher because of my age and because of my medical condition I'm at the upper level of those rates because of my age somewhere in the range of 10 to 20% of our income goes to medical insurance premiums is Miss Woodsen's family here not to be selfish but I'm sitting here in pain and kind of want it to be my turn no I don't like having to wait two hours three hours four hours to be seen I'll wait 20 minutes and I would like the gun myself thank you we're a five tiered triage system and what we're doing right now is as a patient comes in the door we determined levels one through five we look for the worst case scenario that person is going to go right back and a level five is something that could really you could come back tomorrow and be seen for it so I have a patient coming right now I know there's no way we could do it without insurance there's no way we could pay for everything we get great care but it's just the cost of it that is just you know over whelming I have two other kids with disabilities to that get care and so it's just well it's it's a lot of cost all right mommy I'll get you to sign this and then we can go yeah you can go honey we had you know insurance through a war on where he had short customers to work on but after the heart attacks started he had to go on disability the Medicare you know is primary insurance you then they pay after waiting six hours Deborah Griffin is finally seen she was given pain medicine to relieve her abdominal pain but she almost left before receiving care I was going to sign myself out and as we go to another hospital within ten minutes they had me back here for millions of Americans without insurance the ER becomes their first and only line of care some patients are referred to the ER by their primary care doctor miss Parsons hello I had patients who tried to contact their either their primary care doctor or the clinic but we're unable to get access and therefore we're instructed to come here we're definitely the safety net and have been able to see those people and accommodate that all right other other patients have seen their primary care doctor you know the one we just saw saw her primary care doctor for a similar problem last week and she's just gotten acutely worse and you know it wouldn't have been prudent for her to wait another day to see that person in the morning I do know of another one out of a room of another one in we have this crazy system in the healthcare system they're all done there's no discouragement you know to go and get your own primary care physician make that appointment and you know we've got people that will abuse the system come in for minor complaints Robert Bowers sought treatment in the ER for what doctors described as a swollen gland in the mergency room twice yesterday was Sunday said I figured probably the doctors wouldn't be in again I don't sound too scared emergency room and it's any debut you know my personal experience I had I my doctor's office tell me to bring my son to the emergency room for sports physical I mean truly they did and I said are you crazy why would you tell people tell us that all the time all my doctor said to come and we never believed him it's like why would a doctor's office until that happened to me after 94% really her she went to 100% on normally with an answer a decent number of her folks who come in the hospital ought not to need to come here we have the patient who had have it and who has a known diagnosis of seizures who is out of a seizure medication and wildly inefficient way of doing things couple days ago I did some pills they're something that I smoked some weed and then I and my friends we have a lot of what we call frequent flyers or patients that come daily like they all know me by like first name now I might as well like run a room in here the healthcare system is broken I just don't know we don't always have the answers how to change it we see a lot of patients I don't think Washington ever makes anything better we're just happy with what we've got it's challenging to to see all of them to meet everybody's needs we expect people to know everything and with all the signs that we have we expect the answer it's ridiculous it's insane and that doesn't always happen the only level of healthcare I believe in for that's free is for people who are not capable of supporting themselves if you have insurance it's probably a whole lot easier on you they have nowhere to turn nowhere to go and they come here in that situation that's what the Garvin's forum that's why that's needed you don't have insurance and you work for a living you got bills to pay gonna come up with some money to pay your bills and then if you get sick you got to pay those bills to you it gets pretty hard on people I guess just doesn't seem to be a lot of help out for people in my situation not until I've been able to go back to work I really want to be able to choose you know where I'm going and I want especially I want the specialty care for diabetes too I would just hate to have to far play as we change they're told that we have to go see certain doctors I think we have some opportunity here with health care reform to improve the efficiency be very easy to change some behaviors if you gave everybody health insurance and charge them more money if they smoke on their premiums duh you know it works on cars right we care more about cars than people there needs to be an effort to reduce the costs of medical care and the cost of medical insurance if we go to universal health coverage my prediction is that the demand for services will increase and we'll actually have more emergency department visits than we do now and that will probably persist for a decade or so until we can get enough resources in primary care where there's enough physicians and other health care providers to see patients you have to provide more more family medicine doctors I think what Congress could do is come down and spend 24 hours in an emergency department to see what it's really like to see what type of patients we have to see the desperation these people don't come seeking medication we're like their last resource

34 thoughts on “24 Hours in the ER: Health care's front lines”

  1. If that nurse thinks people sponge the system in the USA, come to the UK. People go to the Hospital for mild coughs, headaches, a paper cut and wonder why the NHS struggle. We have Doctors offices for that reason, only medical emergency's and people referred to the Hospital should be allowed in.

  2. Why are people from other countries bragging about their free healthcare? Stop bragging and boasting. It is a sin.

  3. "Americans enjoy one of the highest levels of care in the world" unless of course, they are uninsured and poor.

  4. I know I was diagnosed with Epilepsy when I was 6 and now when I have a seizure at school or work or when I am going to the store the first thing that happens is people call 911 and I end up in the ER and I get so mad at my school and my work cause they know I have epilepsy and they are like well we have to call you might be dieing and then I end up with a bill that I have a hard time paying and when I am home and I have a seizure my dad and sisters and mom and stepdad and stepbrother and stepsister don't call 911 they just talk to me until I come out of it

  5. I’ve never been to the emergency room except for that one time last month after 21 years of never going to do to a scratch in my trachea. I went to urgent care first and they couldn’t help me so I went to the ER, waited over four hours, eventually got a throw x-ray and was determined that the scratch was in going to Harm me and was given Numbing gel to swallow and pain meds for the next 24 hours. It was a deep scratch but I didn’t get anything Important that I was in a lot of pain and very uncomfortable and it felt like I was going to choke on my own epiglottis. Last week I got the bill for me in the emergency room. It cost $4000 for a throw x-ray, one dose of numbing gel, and one dose Of pain medication. Luckily I have insurance so I only paid a little bit over $100 for all that but on the bill, most of that money goes towards charity care that the specific hospital provides.

  6. I understand their 5 tier system- but you don’t ever really know how much pain someone is in rather it be mentally or physically- so I don’t think it’s really that fair to say how bad somebody is unless they’re coming in screaming and in obvious unbearable pain.

  7. I just spent two nights in the hospital due to an infection I got post-op. My insurance was billed $19,000 dollars. I have to pay $3,000. Our system is broken.

  8. i feel so bad and sorry for my parents because they have to pay tons of money even with insurance for doctors. Nobody knows what's wrong with me for a year and now insurance are telling us that they are not going to pay as much as they did for last year.

  9. I tried to sign up for insurance in the US. Cheapest plan was nearly $700 a month with a $6000 deductible. Forget it.

  10. wow that so sad why the doctors don't cause the doctors are money hungry that why even when they do surgery they get a lot of.money doing surgery

  11. Here in USA my doctors laughed at me for being scared over allergic reactions to beauty products and face products to clear ache up. It was the first time. I didnt know it. Until that night, I can't breathe and my swelling never went away for two days. I was told to not over react next time. And scold me for using those for no reason. I felt angry, I keep myself away from hospital as possible so I won't get judged at. And I'm sadden by the fact when anyone like me asking for help. Was judged at and laugh about it. It was so cruel. Even as deaf person like me had been labeling me as difficult patients. I was polite, well spoken english, direct and alert. It's so weird of how I had to wait 4 hours at the urgent care for that dumb 12 pills to take care lungs infections. I dont understand it, to be honest..

  12. I know this is a sad subject because it could scar them for life or worse but that face on the thumbnail

  13. I've been working in health care a long time. Life is complicated and there are no easy answers to fix this problem. If you are watching this and believe you have a simple solution that will fix it, which ever the side of the isle you're on politically, I can assure you it won't work. So don't be so smug and think you know everything.

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