And So We Wait.


My father had a bad case of cellulitis in October and was on various IV antibiotics.  My father’s veins had other plans.

Every morning I would find that the damn needle had gone interstitial:  stuck in the surrounding tissue rather than the vein. Three times this happened, and each time necessitated a visit to the emergency department for repair.

We thought a 93 year-old with a skin infection and an interstitial IV site would fast track through the ER, at least ahead of the snotty noses and black eyes.

Of course we were wrong.

On the first visit, we waited five hours and received treatment not from a doctor but a nurse practitioner.  On the second visit, there were five doctors, but all of them were glued to the bed of the lady next to us who apparently had a fascinating rash. Only one of the doctors was the lady’s actual attending; the others just stood around gawking and left when the fun was over.

The final ER visit was the doozy:  eight long hours in the emergency department.  It could have been a much shorter visit; we got there at 8:30 and by 11:30 were waiting on test results and the final word from the doctor.  But then the radiology department lost the test results. Almost 4 hours later, the results reappeared and we were on our way.

Let me first say that I believe–as all Canadians do–that when it comes to health care you wait your fair turn.  Nobody should get ahead of anybody else because they have better connections or more money or they scream louder (although I will admit that I asked my father to moan a little in the hopes of attracting medical attention.)  In Canada, the wait time standard for non-acute emergency care is 4 to 5 hours, excluding registration and triage.  I do think, however, that Emergency Departments can do a lot better–starting with smacking doctors who should be doing more treating and less gawking.

The other thing I would change about the Emergency Department is moving its location closer to the damn cafeteria–or having one of its own.  Or maybe even a bar (and not the coffee kind). If I gotta be marooned somewhere for hours on end, I require a special kind of sustenance.



7 thoughts on “And So We Wait.

  1. What happened to TRIAGE? A friend’s mother in her early 90s, broke her arm. They sat in EMERG for 8, yes EIGHT hours. That was five or so years ago. I hoped things had improved since then. Sorry to hear your father (and you) had such treatment. ❤

    • t.y. 🙂

      Broken arm with an 8-hour wait? Holy Cow. Guess they don’t think a broken arm–even for an elderly person, requires quicker treatment. Makes me shake my head.

      Comparatively, following these events my father had a heart attack and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. They saw him immediately but the cath lab (which does the cardiac testing) is closed on the weekend so off he went to Henry Ford in Michigan, with whom the Windsor Hospitals have an arrangement. Fortunately there wasn’t much tunnel traffic so he arrived at Henry Ford quickly, was tested within the hour, and was sent back the next day.

      Dad is doing well but I’m sure has had his fill of emergency rooms and hospitals (ditto his daughters.)

  2. If it’s any consolation, the same thing happens here in Britain (and probably everywhere). There must be a better way of organising emergency care and screening out the idiots who clog up the system with a stubbed toe.

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