Re: Advertising blitz to reduce ER wait times (July 5). For close to 10 years I have been following the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority'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 have nothing to do with over-utilization of the departments by patients with non-urgent problems. These patients require little treatment time and little clinical resources and they do not impact on adverse outcomes.
It is the patient 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 complications and death. It is this wait time that is the most important and it is on these patients that the WHRA should focus its 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?
DR. ALAN DRUMMOND
Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians