STAT

Opinion: Emergency departments: the ‘chewing gum and duct tape’ holding together U.S. health care

Using emergency departments to provide access to health care is like putting a snow plow on a Porsche. It costs more, does a poor job, and trashes the Porsche.
An intensive care ward in the Brompton Hospital in London in 1969. Source: Peter King/Fox Photos/Getty Images

The evolution of emergency care in the United States is a fascinating story. Sadly, what became a hugely successful solution to an important problem in health care is now being eroded by its misapplication to another problem.

The modern U.S. health care system began with so much promise. After World War II, the economy was booming and employers were quick to provide health care for their workers. The addition of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965 further fueled a dramatic expansion in the quality and availability of health care services.

Throughout this time, emergency care was still in its dark

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