A Letter to the Country from an Emergency Physician

I would like to share this very heartfelt letter by emergency room physician Dr. Jacobson with my readers.  The article addresses many healthcare issues that face Americans.  The article describes how ER patients suffering from simple problems demand to be treated the same as patients suffering from life-threatening emergencies.  The article touches on how American’s are over-using emergency rooms for problems that could be solved in a primary care physician’s outpatient office.  Since healthcare has been deemed a “right” under our new healthcare law, these are problems that will only get worse as our evolution to mediocre government-run healthcare continues.  Is this a cultural issue or can it be solved by policy changes? Please read the letter from Dr. Jacobson and share your thoughts.

Dear America,

I am an emergency physician with an apolitical message in this rather politically charged, polarized time in our country. I have worked for some time in this profession, and have noticed a disturbing trend about which I must speak out — the growing number of emergency department scenarios in which the selfishness and entitlement of those without real emergencies drown out the quiet suffering of those in real need. 


This morning a middle-aged woman came into the emergency room in cardiac arrest.  ACLS was performed to keep her alive. Other patients were in the ED before she even arrived, certainly with what they felt were emergencies, but treatments for these individuals were placed on hold as this event took precedence.  After 75 minutes of continual heroic measures and life-saving interventions, with her grief-stricken husband crying, holding her hand for the last time, and stroking her face, she died. This was no movie, no reality TV show. This was as real as it gets. Real life and real death. Family huddled around the bed to say their goodbyes and wished they or we could have done more. I walked to my office, emotionally drained and exhausted, and from across the emergency department another patient, upset that she had to wait, spoke out brashly in tones that carried to every room in the department. “I know someone’s dying and all, but I am in real pain here.”

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-Raymond Kordonowy, MD