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Broken Healthcare in America: Problems in the ER

March 22, 2010

Last week I received a letter from a hospital I am on the staff of.  The letter requested that I fill out a survey aimed to improve "both the quality and the practice environment" of the hospital.  This letter came several weeks after I observed first hand how most hospitals are out of touch with their patients' needs.

Instead of filling out the survey, I sent the following letter to the hospital's Executive Director:

March 22, 2010

                            Re: Recent survey request

Dear Dr xxxxxx:


I recently received a letter from you asking me to fill out a survey “aimed to enhance both the quality of care and the practice environment at our hospital.”


I am an ophthalmologist on staff at xxxxxxx.  Since the bulk of my practice is office based, and my surgery is done at an ambulatory cataract center, I have very little daily interaction with the hospital, other than my annual week on call for the emergency room.


I am therefore writing to give you some insight into xxxxxxx's “lack of quality” as seen through the eyes of a patient’s family member.


My father is a 79 year old cardiac patient who called me at 11 PM on Monday, February 22.  He asked me to come pick him up and bring him to the ER, as he had uncontrolled diarrhea and cold sweats.  Although he usually has his medical care at another hospital, I took him immediately to xxxxxx's ER.  It was the closest, and I am on staff.


After we checked in and sat in the waiting room for a while, I noticed that there was NO movement of patients, nor any communications explaining any wait.  I asked to speak with a supervisor to see if we could be treated with some courtesy, as I was on the medical staff.  I was told that there was a 7 hour wait to be seen, and assured my father would be seen within the hour.  (The 7 hour wait was never mentioned upon intake.)  This was my last communication with any of the ER staff. After waiting 2 hours, my father and I walked out of the ER!


This is not the type of treatment expected from a Health Care System whose motto is:  “A Legacy of Excellence.”  I have never seen such poor patient communication and quality assurance.  If I ran my practice this way, I doubt I would have many patients.  I can only imagine how the family of a non medical staff member is treated. Needless to say, I will not be recommending xxxxxx to any patients, family, or friends.


I will not be completing the survey as you requested, and I am enclosing it with this letter.





Cary M. Silverman, MD

Medical Director


Now this hospital is a very successful hospital in the affluent suburbs.  One can only imagine how it and hospitals in poorer communities will fare with the upcoming cuts sure to come with the passage of health care reform.  Things will surely be getting worse.  Please leave me a comment to let me know what you think?

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