Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Crowded ERs bad for all, demand fix

Citizen Staff Writer

If anyone needs motivation to practice preventive health care, they should have the impetus from Tucson’s crowded and painfully slow emergency rooms.

Patients may have to wait up to eight hours in a Tucson emergency room before seeing a health-care professional.

One reason is the serious shortage of on-call health specialists responding to emergencies. Another chief cause is the hordes of people coming to ERs for health problems that are not emergencies.

Uninsured residents, visitors without local doctors and illegal immigrants who don’t understand our health-care system tend to head straight to the hospital rather than to a doctor’s office or a clinic.

That impedes effective true emergency care for everyone.

Emergency care is far more costly than regular treatment in a doctor’s office – and taxpayers ultimately pick up the tab when uninsured patients don’t.

The crowded ERs and long waits for medical care also can pose complications for patients with severe problems who are forced to wait hours to be seen.

Certain conditions can worsen without quick attention. And while ER staffers do their best to treat the worst cases first, that’s impossible to guarantee with the scenario in emergency rooms these days.

There are no easy answers, but that must not keep us from trying. This is not just a problem in Tucson, so we suggest that Gov. Janet Napolitano call together the medical community, insurance companies, patient advocates and legislative leaders to begin looking at solutions.

A complex problem can be treated only in a complex way – and that may mean a combination of public-funding considerations, changes in state laws as they affect medical care, malpractice claims, how insurance companies operate and basic standards of treatment.

Clearly, something must be done. People who suffer serious health emergencies cannot be expected to wait hours to be seen. And people who are not in an emergency situation should have other venues so they do not clog the system for those in dire straits.

We encourage the governor to work with hospital and other health-care professionals to explore solutions to this dilemma, as this problem truly can mean the difference between life and death.

The lawyers win

Efforts to teach English to Arizona children have devolved into a free-for-all for lawyers.

As U.S. District Court Judge Raner Collins prepares to decide if a bill passed by the Legislature satisfies the state’s legal obligations, lawyers are leaping in.

There are the lawyers who originally filed the suit against the state. And there is Attorney General Terry Goddard, who is defending the state’s position.

Now there also will be a passel of lawyers hired by Republicans in the Legislature who fear that Goddard, a Democrat, may not be aggressive enough in defending their bill.

Imagine how much good could have been done for the children of Arizona if all the money that has been, is being and will be spent on lawyers had instead been spent on the English-learning program.

So far, the only winner is the legal profession.

And the losers, besides Arizona’s English-deficient children?


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