Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics


How to choose your emergency room

How to choose your emergency room

So, you’ve just been hit by a bus, and you’re lying bleeding in the gutter. Naturally, what you’re thinking about is, what would be the most convenient place to get a couple of pints of blood, and maybe have a ruptured spleen removed. Sure, the ambulance drivers might know the closest one, but I’m going to insist on being taken to the best, and what better recommendation could there be, when your life is at stake, than a placard on the side of a bus. (Anyway, the EMTs probably have a remunerative arrangement with some other hospital that will pad their incomes, regardless of whether you survive the trip.) And while I’m paying thousands of dollars a day just for being in the bed, I can think about how my money is being put to good use subsidising mass transit.

Seriously, isn’t this beyond bad taste? I’m used to a medical system that advertises to, you know, inform the public about medical matters. Not to drum up business for the ER.

I’m not sure which sick comedy this most reminds me of. Is it Monty Python’s Graham Chapman, playing a transplant surgeon who complains of the lack of donor organs because “There just aren’t enough accidents. It’s unethical and time-consuming to go out and cause them.”

But then there’s Tom Lehrer’s joke about receiving for Christmas a gift certificate “good at any hospital for a lobotomy”.

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