Andrew D. Coates, MD
Requests for Single Reprints: Andrew D. Coates, MD, Department of Medicine, Albany Medical College, 47 New Scotland Avenue, MC 57, Albany, NY 12208; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coates A.; The Man Who Worked Too Hard. Ann Intern Med. 2013;159:433-434. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-159-6-201309170-00014
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2013;159(6):433-434.
Influenza rocked our community hospital for weeks this winter just as the first snowstorms came. Our hospital medicine service was swamped with patients. I was working the night shift.
One emergency physician dramatically recounted how a queue of ambulances had clogged the parking lot. Once all of the emergency department beds, hallway spaces, and waiting room seats were taken, patients waited outside in ambulances. With the usual triage system in gridlock, he had climbed into ambulances one by one to help triage or stabilize patients.
Such are the undignified consequences of a system that encourages hospitals to run themselves like factories or just-in-time warehouses. Many experiences from our episode of too many patients might illustrate wasteful, inequitable aspects of our already-frayed, haphazard system, but one patient's admission stood out.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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