Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Investigative Journalism

It seems that most major news outlets are on a continuing cycle to "re-break" the news that emergency departments across the country are dangerously overcrowded.  Just in the past week, both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times published articles (here and here) on this painfully obvious fact of life for our current system.

It's the same song heard countless times before; ERs are overcrowded and short-staffed, uninsured and under-insured patients are abusing the ER as a source of primary care, while even those with insurance are forced to sit in waiting rooms because they can't get an appointment with the dwindling number of overworked and underpaid primary care physicians.  The Times article throws in the contradiction that many ERs are being pushed even further beyond the breaking point by those who can no longer afford health care costs in light of the recession, while other ERs are emptying out as struggling individuals avoid seeking treatment to prevent devastating medical bills.

Unfortunately, though the problem is exceedingly well-defined, no one (including myself) seems to have a convincing solution.  And until that changes, we can expect to see these same articles again and again.

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