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    Wednesday, January 12, 2005

    Wasting Resources: What ambulance crews do in Toronto:

    PATIENTS ARE being put at risk -- and Toronto taxpayers are paying the bill -- while paramedics spend more and more time babysitting patients in hospital emergency rooms. At times Toronto EMS has had no available ambulances on the road to react to emergency calls because all the crews are stuck waiting for patients to be seen in the ER, spokesman Larry Roberts said.

    The problem soared in the fall as paramedics taking a patient to hospital were forced to continue caring for the person.

    "It's more and more often that crews are sitting four, five, even eight hours in an emergency department," Roberts said. "It's a serious problem.

    "It affects our availability on how quickly we can get to an emergency call," he said.

    Emergency rooms get crowded here in the United States, too, but in cities the size of Toronto, and in smaller ones with more than one hospital, the ER's are able to cooperate when it comes to ambulance traffic. An emergency room with no more beds will close to ambulances and divert them to another hospital. This can cause some problems of its own, such as longer transport times, but it's better than waiting in the ER for hours. If you're sick enough for an ambulance, you shouldn't have to wait hours for medical attention.

    UPDATE: An ER resident disagrees:

    I am a ER Resident at the Universuty of Michigan, and I have been reading your blog for about a year now. I generally agreee with what you write, but in this most recent post, I have to strongly disagree.

    You said "If you're sick enough for an ambulance, you shouldn't have to wait hours for medical attention."

    This may be true, but in my experience there are plenty of people who call an ambulance for non emergent reasons (i.e. I have had abdominal pain for 3 days and it isn't getting better, or I twisteded my ankle and can walk, but my friends can't (or won't) drive me to get it checked out)

    Maybe where you work this is true, but in our area, our paramedics are excellent and if someone really needs emergent attention, they'll let us know over the radio.

    I suppose it depends on the paramedics. Around here, they've been known to check out a person and decline to transport them if it's not an emergency. I suppose if someone insisted, they would do it, but I don't think that happens too much.

    posted by Sydney on 1/12/2005 07:59:00 PM 0 comments


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