Child mauled by a pit bull, but the ER sends the kid home

Trying to find ways to decompress its crowded emergency department, the University of Chicago is “re-directing” non-urgent cases to community centers or clinics.

However, as emergency physician Shadowfax notes, you better be careful who you turn away, because as this case shows, doing it poorly results in a public relations nightmare.

Will those on Medicaid, or without insurance, be preferentially “re-directed” to safety net hospitals? In this instance, the answer appears to be yes.

The child, whose only insurance was Medicaid, had a chuck of his lip torn from his face. Instead of immediate surgery, he was discharged on antibiotics and told to followup at another instituton in a week. Instead, his mother took him to another hospital an hour away, where he promptly underwent surgery.

What’s likely to happen is that Medicare will “use this as an opening to delve into the records of [the University of Chicago Medical Center] and find every single transfer and redirect and crucify the organization for this and possibly other transgressions.”

ERs are placed in a tough position. On one hand, there is no question they are overcrowded. But in trying to find ways to reduce wait times, there had better not be an impression of cherry-picking patients.

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  • Anonymous

    They will need to find another politican’s spouse to hire for $300-plus grand a year.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s what ACEP has to say about the case:

    Here’s what the University of Chicago has to say about ACEP. Ouch.

    The news release sent out today by the American College of Emergency Physicians was reckless and uninformed and based on hearsay. It was unprofessional to release such a statement without even attempting to verify the facts……

    American College of Emergency Physicians president “…..did not try to verify the facts of the case with University of Chicago officials before issuing the statement. He also said he hadn’t looked at the boy’s medical records…..”

    Read the whole thing.

  • Anonymous

    There’s also the issue of the surgery service not accepting the patient. What’s the ED to do then? No ED doc is going to perform surgery on the kid in the ED.

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