An online article's comment, "Another growing trend is patients routinely using emergency rooms for primary care problems -- a definite waste of resources," caught my attention. The article was published 14 Jan 2013 and unless you been living under a rock or in a coma for the past decade it would be hard to believe anyone, much less a healthcare worker, would believe misuse of the ED was a "growing trend" as that misuse has been the norm for the past two decades, if not longer. Because of the article's naive suggestion, that misuse of the ED was a "growing trend", I submitted the following comment to the mentioned article's author.
I have written a book titled, The Customer is NEVER Right: A Nurse Practitioner’s Perspective.* I wrote the book because it is not our healthcare system that is broke. It is our immediate-gratification and instant-action demanding society** that is broke; with their exaggerated unrealistic emotional expectations, demands for entitlements and their so-called VIP personas.
However, I find it disturbing that ANY healthcare worker would describe the great healthcare in the United States of America as a “broken healthcare system”. The fact is, our nation not only has the best healthcare system on the planet but we deliver more healthcare to more people, not only our citizens but to citizens from other nations, than any other country on the planet. Because of that alone, our healthcare system deserves a standing ovation rather than trying to tear it down.
Do not believe the hype politicians and administrators try to sell the public with their feel good impotent legislation proposals that are no more than attempts to win popularity contest, regardless what side of the political aisle it comes from.
Think about this, how did our society go from the "greatest generation" to a nation of T-ball players? How did we go from those who scarified so much, not for fame or recognition but because they thought it was the right thing to do, to a nation where there are no strikes, no outs, everyone bats, no one wins and at the end of the season everyone gets a trophy? How did we get here?
We do NOT need celebrity wannabes, we need leaders. As only leaders are willing to make the hard decisions because any T-ball player can make the easy ones. The same goes for healthcare, where we could use leaders too, and not T-ball players, to improve the planet's best healthcare system. Again, only leaders are willing to make the hard decisions, like supporting their loyal employees over "petulant, unreasonable, angry, demanding customers"***. Only leaders are willing to tell patients, "Not 'every sneeze is swine flu, every headache a tumor'"** and that they do not have to run to seek medical attention for every ache or sniffle. Leaders, because any T-ball player can bend over backwards to accommodate patients with exaggerated unrealistic emotional expectations.
So as healthcare workers, lets say NO! to the propaganda that our healthcare is broke, or subpar to those around the world. Because essentially, it is healthcare workers who are responsible for the delivery of such premier healthcare and we should not tear it down by blindly following others who have agendas that are not in healthcare's best interest. On top of that, bad ideas are successful when good-doers stand by and do nothing.
As for the emergency department being used as primary care, that is NOT “another growing trend” as the commented article suggested, again, unless you have been out of touch with healthcare for the past decade or more. Instead that “definite waste of resources”, the remarked about article mentioned, has been our nation’s main healthcare thorn in the side for more than the past decade. However, administrators have chosen to ignore that "definite waste of resources", not only in the emergency department but in healthcare overall for that matter, by betting on good customer service, now called the customer experience, over good medical care not only as the solution but more so as an opportunity for profit. When instead, if administrators put medical care first and deflated customer satisfaction to being no more than a byproduct of world-renowned medical care and the healthcare workers who provide it, everything else would fall into place, including profit.
Jose Angel Torres, NP
*The Customer is NEVER Right: A Nurse Practitioner’s Perspective @ www.thecustomerisneverright.com