Constant readers may remember that, before I began this MRSA project, I spent a year as a media fellow with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, researching overcrowding and stress in emergency rooms. (Some stories from that project here, here and here.)
So I was particularly interested in and saddened by a post on the excellent blog Health Beat (now in the blogroll!) that explores in good detail why emergency rooms are so crowded and especially what the loss of experienced emergency nurses is doing to the quality of emergency care.
Why is this important for MRSA? Well, if you or a family member is struck with what looks like one of the dramatic presentations of MRSA — bone infection, rapidly progressing pneumonia, even a serious skin infection — where are you likely to take that problem? Yes, to the ER. Even if you have insurance; an increasing number of studies are pointing out that the vast majority of people waiting for care are not the uninsured or undocumented, but insured people who can't get care from their regular doctors.
So be prepared.