Documentary filmmaker Peter Nicks wondered how patients in the waiting room at Highland Hospital would respond to former President George W. Bush’s statement that the U.S. already has universal health coverage because hospitals, by law, cannot turn anyone away from an emergency room if they could not pay. Over five months, Nicks filmed “The Waiting Room” to shed some light on Bush’s interpretation of universal coverage. In an emergency room environment, patients cannot make appointments, so they must wait. Patients are seen based on urgency. Treatment of minor ailments postponed for true emergency cases can get worse in the meantime and become more costly to treat later. Patients who use emergency rooms as their primary source of medical care get no continuity of care because they have no regular doctor. This can leave gaps in medical histories and no follow-up to assess the treatment.
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