New England Journal of Medicine
June 16, 2011
"The ER is more than a hospital department. It's a “room with a view” of our health care system.5 The quickest way to assess the strength of a community's public health, primary care, and hospital systems is to spend a few hours in the emergency department. If public health is under-resourced, you will see more patients with vaccine-preventable illnesses, smoking-related health problems, preventable injuries, and foodborne diseases than you otherwise would.
If primary care is fragmented or weak, the ER's waiting room will be full of patients with problems that should have been prevented or treated by primary care providers.
If the hospital's administration is not adept at managing the flow of patients, the ER's exam rooms, resuscitation bays, and hallways will be packed with ill and injured patients, many of whom were stabilized and admitted hours earlier but now have nowhere to go."