A Night in the ER: Adrenaline, Chaos and Very Long Waits

At Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center, as many as 550 patients a day pass through the emergency room. ‘It’s like a battlefield in here.… It just doesn’t stop,’ says a nurse supervisor.

A wall-mounted computer screen in the call center at L.A. County/USC Medical Center showed the emergency room was full. Ambulances were supposed to take patients elsewhere on this Friday night. But they kept coming — some because it was the closest ER, others because the injuries were so severe only a trauma center could handle them.

“We get them from outside hospitals, from clinics, from the field, from the jail, from police, from everywhere — everywhere,” said Alma Aviles, a nurse supervisor. “It’s like a battlefield in here.… It just doesn’t stop.”

Four patients waited on gurneys in a hallway: Continue reading