"How to Survive Your Local ER"

From Parade magazine

How often do things go wrong? No one knows for certain: Because so many mistakes are minor and so few have clear causes, accurate statistics are difficult to maintain. According to one 1999 study, though, more than half of all preventable hospital-error claims result from mistakes made in the ER.

The main culprit isn’t incompetence but chaos: The nation’s emergency rooms are overburdened and underfunded, treating ever more patients with ever fewer resources. “You don’t want to scare the public, because hundreds of thousands of patients get cared for very well in emergency rooms every day,” says Gail Warden, president emeritus of Michigan’s Henry Ford Health System, who chaired a trio of studies of emergency care released in June by the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine. “But the system is stretched, and it could be at a breaking point in three to five years.”