ER crowding and your risk of dying from a heart attack

It’s not a secret that emergency departments are becoming more crowded by the day.

Especially if universal health coverage is enacted without appropriate primary care doctors to see the newly-insured, expect the problem only to worsen.

So, it comes as no surprise that those who wait longer, especially for symptoms that could be cardiac in nature, potentially can have worse outcomes.

As reported in MedPage Today, a study shows that, “emergency room patients seeking treatment for chest pain were more likely to suffer adverse cardiovascular outcomes when the facilities were crowded.”

Makes sense, since when it comes to a blockage in a coronary artery, seconds count. The authors also account for other reasons, including the fact that a crowded ER leads to higher nurse-patient ratios, along with the risk of medical errors as patients are “handed off” from one doctor to another.

In any case, this isn’t a problem that’s likely to get better anytime soon.