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Critical Condition

Television portrays ERs as high-tech places where everyone gets saved. But what’s the real deal?

Fall 2006
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26
Percentage increase in U.S. emergency room (ER) visits during the 1993–2003 period, compared to a 12.5% increase in the U.S. population during that time

15
Percentage decrease in the number of U.S. ERs during that period (from 4,791 to 4,073)

1,440
Average number of ambulances each day turned away from an ER at maximum capacity

65
Short-term survival rate as a percentage, following cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the TV show ER during the 1994–95 season; the actual rate is anywhere from 7% to 15%

3.2
Average time, in hours, a patient spends in the ER, 46.5 minutes of which are spent waiting

1.9
Millions of times ER patients left without being treated in 2003—1.7% of all ER visits

14.1
Percentage of total visits to ERs, in 2003, made by uninsured persons

5
Percentage of funding that emergency medical services received from the Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program in 2002; the funding, which typically ranged from $5,000 to $10,000 per hospital, is not enough to fully equip one intensive care room

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