Wednesday, May 13, 2009

At the ER, It's About Who Waits Best

My wife became sick overnight and we wound up having to run over to the hospital emergency room first thing this morning. After I got her settled in (she turned out to be OK), I ran home to take a quick shower, thinking I'd get that done and hustle back over, collect her and get to a couple of photo shoots on time. I found out that hospitals don't operate on that kind of time equation, one that involves efficiency.

Walking back up the hill to the ER after the shower, a thought came to me: "I'll bet that far more than 75 percent of the people in this large building are, at this very moment, waiting for something to happen." Patients are waiting to sign in or to be taken into the back room; waiting for a nurse or physician to come to the room; waiting for them to come back; waiting for a blood test going one way or the other; waiting for somebody just to let them know they haven't been forgotten; waiting to break out of this joint.

Nurses are waiting for assignments, waiting for doctors, waiting for tests, waiting for specialists to call back. Doctors are waiting for much of the same and lab people are waiting to get blood or other fluids, then waiting for the tests to be complete.

It's a heck of a cycle and with all that down time, it's no wonder this is an expensive proposition. Imagine if things could happen in real-world time.

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