From the Washington Post:
Emergency medical care in the United States is on the verge of collapse, with the nation's declining number of emergency rooms dangerously overcrowded and often unable to provide the expertise needed to treat seriously ill people in a safe and efficient manner.
That's the grim conclusion of three reports released yesterday by the Institute of Medicine, the product of an extensive two-year look at emergency care.
Long waits for treatment are epidemic, the reports said, with ambulances sometimes idling for hours to unload patients. Once in the ER, patients sometimes wait up to two days to be admitted to a hospital bed.
As a system, U.S. emergency care lacks stability and the capacity to respond to large disasters or epidemics, according to the 25 experts who conducted the study. It provides care of variable and often unknown quality and depends on the willingness of doctors and hospitals to lose large amounts of money.
Fixing the problems is likely to cost billions of dollars and will require the leadership of a new federal agency, which Congress should create in the next two years, they wrote.
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