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Out this week is a report that notes the following: Patients spent "an average of four hours and three minutes" waiting in the emergency room in 2008, a slight decrease from the '07 average but an enormous jump from the '02 numbers. (In Texas, the average wait is 258 minutes, which is how long the Transformers sequel feels.) Of course, many of those seeking ER treatment in recent months are folks who've lost their jobs, and their health insurance, and have no place to go when in need of a doc. So says Elizabeth Cohen, CNN's senior medical correspondent, and so says Dr. Angela Gardner, incoming president of the American College of Emergency Physicians and an ER doc at Parkland Hospital:
"Some of these people come to the ER because they've been turned away by their primary care physician, because they've lost their insurance. Sometimes they've delayed care because they have no insurance and end up with a much more serious condition."
Gardner ... said these newly uninsured people are taxing an overburdened system. "We're overwhelmed and swamped," she said.
Incidentally, Gardner's Twitter feed is full of hot sports opinions and in-the-trenches observations worth observing.