How Hospitals are Killing ER Patients

hospital, ER, death, killing, mortality, longevity, life expectancy, drugs, medicineIn June, Esmin Green, a 49-year-old mother of six, tumbled off her chair and onto the floor of the Kings County psychiatric ER waiting room in New York City. She'd been waiting for a psychiatric-unit bed to open up for more than 24 hours. Members of the hospital staff saw her lying there but did nothing for about an hour.

When Green was finally brought into the ER, she was dead. An autopsy revealed that she died from a pulmonary embolism, a blot clot in the legs which traveled to her lungs.

Why was Green sitting and waiting for so long while blood pooled in her legs? Despite increasing evidence that crowded ER’s can be hazardous to your health, hospitals have incentives to keep their ER patients waiting. As a result, there has been an explosion in ER wait times over the past few years, even for those who are the sickest.

A major cause for ER crowding is the hospital practice of boarding inpatients in emergency departments. If there are no inpatient beds in the hospital then the patient stays in the ER long past the completion of the initial emergency work. The problem is that boarding shifts ER resources away from the new patients in the waiting room. A recent study found that critically ill patients who board for more than six hours in the ER are 4 percent more likely to die.

What hospital would promote such a practice?

Those that make money off of it. There are two competing sources for inpatient beds. The first source is patients who come in through direct and transfer admissions. They are more likely to come with private insurance and need procedural care, both of which maximize profits. The second source is ER patients, who are more likely to be uninsured or have low-paying Medicaid.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

This article will hopefully serve as yet another major wake-up call to Americans, providing solid evidence that the conventional health care system is desperately in need of radical change. Facilitating this change is a substantial part of my vision.

I do want to make it clear however, that I am very grateful for the amazing dedication and commitment that created the U.S. national trauma system network. Accidents are part of living and the dedicated physicians in the ER are probably the most appropriate application of the conventional medical model.  They have saved and benefited countless lives through the application of their principles.

However ER medicine is best for acute accidents and nearly always an unmitigated disaster when it is applied for chronic degenerative illnesses.

Far too many negative health and lifestyle choices are made because of a lack of knowledge, and it's my intention to increase your awareness of the health tragedies facing the U.S., and empower you with the tools needed to become a force for good health.

A More Efficient Killing Machine than Cancer

You’re probably already aware that the U.S. has the most expensive health care in the world.

Ten years ago, Professor Bruce Pomerance of the University of Toronto concluded that properly prescribed and correctly taken pharmaceutical drugs were the fourth leading cause of death in North America. More recently, Johns Hopkins Medical School refined this research and discovered that medical errors and prescription drugs may acutally be the LEADING cause of death, outpacing cancer (which is now our deadliest disease).

This year the U.S. will spend $2.5 trillion dollars on health care, but by 2017, health care spending is projected to exceed $4 TRILLION. (This is largely due to the costs of drugs and surgery and a reliance on a medical system that treats only symptoms and never the cause of disease.)

I wouldn’t mind it one bit if spending two and half trillion dollars provided major health benefits, but as recent studies have shown, this large multitrillion dollar investment is an unmitigated failure.

The 2008 Scorecard by the Commonwealth Fund commission confirms that the U.S. health system is in a continual downward spiral – something I’ve been warning people about for more than two decades -- and despite the ever-increasing amounts of money invested, your chances of attaining good health through it are only getting worse. 

The U.S. now ranks LAST out of 19 countries for unnecessary deaths – deaths that could have been avoided through timely and effective medical care. Additionally, one-third of adults with health problems reported mistakes in their care in 2007, and rates of visits to physicians or emergency departments for adverse drug effects increased by one-third between 2001 and 2004.

In essence, what we have here is a trend of health care costs rising, mistakes increasing, and pharmaceutical drug-induced side effects and deaths skyrocketing.

What’s NOT wrong with this picture?

Lackadaisical Attitudes in the Face of Grave Mistakes

Unfortunately, surveys have also found that physicians, nurses and other health care workers rarely challenge a colleague when they see a mistake being made in patient care.

For a previous study, researchers spent more than 10,000 hours observing and interviewing more than 2,000 health workers at 19 hospitals across America. Among the disturbing evidence they found:

  • Doctors (84 percent) and nurses and other health care providers (62 percent) have seen co-workers repeatedly take shortcuts that could place patients in danger
  • Doctors (88 percent) and nurses and other health care providers (48 percent) work with people who show poor clinical judgment
  • Fewer than 10 percent of doctors, nurses and other caregivers said they directly confront colleagues about their concerns; one-fifth of those doctors have seen harm come to patients as a result of the behavior of those colleagues

Mrs. Green’s demise, captured on video - leaving nothing to the imagination, highlights and brings these problematic attitudes to the fore. The complete and utter absence of compassion and care exhibited by the staff at Kings County psychiatric ER is truly chilling.

The Lifespan of the American Poor Continues to Drop

According to the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) -- which tracks health care spending -- the U.S. national health expenditure (NHE) grew 6.7 percent in 2006 to $2.1 trillion ($7,026 per person), and accounted for a whopping 16 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Prescription drug spending increased by 5.8 percent that same year.

But despite all these trillions of dollars being spent – more than any socialist-driven health care system – Americans, and especially the poor, are receiving ever-worsening quality of health care – the proof of which lies in the dropping life expectancy statistics.

Considering the fact that life expectancy in the United States as a whole has actually risen by more than six years for women, and seven years for men from 1961 to 1999, the current statistics highlights the problem of poverty combined with unhealthy lifestyles, lack of preventive care, and the exorbitant cost for mediocre health care.

On the one hand, Americans have been spending more and more money on health care over the past decades, yet the life expectancy of certain groups is going down. Clearly, the system is not designed to really care for anyone, but rather to extract maximum profit.

If you think that’s too strong a statement, consider this: The explanation for the decline in life expectancy in certain areas and income brackets is that it’s primarily caused by a rise in common diseases such as lung cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes.

The sadly ironic fact is that these are also some of the diseases that are completely preventable, and – especially in the case of diabetes – 100 percent treatable with fairly simple lifestyle changes, many of which cost nothing!

How to Survive in a Diseased Health Paradigm

Folks, you need to realize that you CAN Take Control of Your Health. You don't have to stand for this nonsense anymore, ever.

There are a number of basic strategies you can use to avoid getting sucked into the current disease-care paradigm. Following these guidelines will be a powerful way to avoid premature aging, and improve your health so that you can stay OUT of the emergency room, and live a longer, more vibrant life.

  1. Eat a healthy diet that’s right for your nutritional type (paying very careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down)
  2. Drink plenty of clean water
  3. Manage your stress
  4. Exercise frequently
  5. Get proper amounts of sunlight
  6. Limit toxin exposure
  7. Consume healthy fat
  8. Eat plenty of raw food
  9. Optimize insulin and leptin levels
  10. Get plenty of sleep

+ Sources and References