Tuesday, August 15, 2006

ER sends nonemergency patients packing

This might be a case of "dog bites man," but the Jacksonville Business Journal reports that area HCA hospitals have adopted the practice of screening emergency room patients (as required by EMTALA) and showing nonemergency patients the door (as permitted by EMTALA) with a brochure listing area clinics in their hands. Is this news, exactly? In my limited urban ER experience, you can sit in the waiting room on a Saturday or Sunday morning and watch one person after another get screened by a nurse who shows the BP/temp/pulse data to a doc and then gently but firmly escorts the almost-a-patient back out to the street. The more humane or enlightened institutions have an ambulatory care clinic to which the a-a-p can be directed, though most ACC's seem to be open only during regular business hours Mon.-Fri. Another common practice is to triage nonemergency ER patients to a non-acute treatment room within the emergency department. The brochure is a nice touch, though the article does quote someone who says the brochure has several inaccurate phone numbers and facility names.
posted by tommayo, 9:24 AM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter