Patient safety top concern as emergency rooms fill up

December 22, 2021

The Washington Post

“An underappreciated and underreported aspect of this, nationally, is people are dying because we cannot get to them fast enough. If you wait for a long time in the waiting room, your situation is going to deteriorate and you have a much high chance of morbidity and catastrophic events,” said Gabe Kelen, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins University.

President Biden on Tuesday announced plans to dispatch medical teams to hospitals in the Midwest and Northeast that can’t keep up with the demand, but D.C., Maryland and Virginia are not on the list. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Tuesday committed $50 million to help hospitals struggling with staffing.

Health workers who shouldered the risk of coronavirus transmission amid shortages of protective equipment before vaccines were available are still straining to meet high volumes and are exhausted, hospital and health-care officials said.

Kelen, a 40-year veteran of emergency medicine and American College of Emergency Physicians board member, co-authored a paper titled “Emergency Department Crowding: The Canary in the Health Care System” in the New England Journal of Medicine in September.

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