My first shift this week brought the single busiest day this ED had seen in years. All day long, there wasn't a ten minute gap when an exam room went unoccupied. By the end of my shift we'd beaten the prior traffic record by 25%.
The next day was even busier.
Then the third day beat them both.
It was absolutely crazy nuts bonkers.
I don't know what made everybody decide to run out to the hospital all at once, but it was the same all over the city. In fact we had quite a few patients who had been to other EDs first. Some of the bigger hospitals had multi-hour wait times, and when people didn't want to wait anymore, they decided to come to us. Most days this would be a good decision as we move people through very quickly, but when overflow from four different hospitals tried to show up all at once, we could only handle so many at a time.
It's not even as if they were all easy cases. For instance I admitted a patient with pneumonia, one in acute stroke, and a couple of assault victims, including one who went directly to the OR. The admissions got the majority of my time and attention, but of course there were also many more patients who were treated and discharged-- like the abdominal pains, lacerations, assorted genitourinary issues, and whatnot.
All told, I saw 29 patients in my twelve hours.
The next time one of my friends working med/surg complains about having 5 patients at a time, I'm not sure if I will be able to muster very much sympathy.