Parkland emergency room wait time draws complaint

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on July 6, 2012 at 5:59 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 6 at 6:12 PM

DALLAS - Every minute matters when you're waiting in the emergency room. One North Texas man said his wait Thursday at Parkland Hospital was dangerously long.

News 8 was watching as that man got tired of waiting and left without treatment after waiting all day for care.

Jose, whose identity we have agreed to protect, is an undocumented construction worker who in nine years has never needed a doctor, until now. Sick with stomach problems and chronic fatigue, he came to Parkland's ER for a third time seeking treatment.

He said the first two times he was turned away for not having an ID. Thursday at 10:37 a.m. he returned with his ID and was hoping for the best.

Jose said he was checked in soon after he arrived and told not to eat or drink. But for the rest of the day, he waited in a crowded ER before being told that he would have to continue to wait to see a doctor.

He was told by a nurse it would probably be  sometime the next day. At 8:35 p.m., 10 hours after he first checked in, Jose decided to leave.

David Spencer of Dallas has known Jose for years and said the delay in getting care is unacceptable.

"This is the third time to seek treatment to find out what's wrong,” Spencer said. “I think it's unfair that if a man is sick and he comes here, he should be able to get treatment or at least be seen at least some kind of action."

It was nearly four years ago that Mike Herrera waited 19 hours without treatment in Parkland's ER before dieing in an observation room. Parkland was later fined, and is now on probation due to other patient endangerment violations.

Parkland officials declined an on-camera interview and issued this statement:

"We do not turn away patients for lack of identification and we have neither reports nor complaints about this happening. If a patient does have a complaint… we always want to know about it and that patient should contact our Patient Relations office."

The Centers for Medicare Services, which has investigated patient care at Parkland issued this statement:

"We will review this case for possible violation of the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which requires hospitals to provide care to anyone needing emergency medical treatment."

With no medical insurance, Jose has little choice but to go back to Parkland later, in hopes the wait will be a few hours shorter.

"There is something seriously wrong and if they are understaffed, something needs to change," Spencer said.

Parkland has been undergoing a major reorganization as a result of the federal investigation into their performance. Parkland has also made progress in emergency room wait times. No word on how or if Thursday’s log jam will affect Parkland's probationary performance.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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