A constant thorn in my side is the constant drumbeat of our organization pushing us to get patients in to see our physicians with less and less delay. Don't get me wrong, I am an enthusiast for creating patient friendly and responsive environments. However, we live in a world of scarce resources and resources expended to get people in faster when they do not need to be seen faster has unintended consequences in terms of resources being available to serve patients who have real medical urgency.
However, in the remainder of the ambulatory world, triage tools which formalize how we separate medical urgency from personal urgency are rudimentary if they exist at all. Our triage tool is to respond to who calls first, or who screams the loudest, or who knows somebody. Our goal is for everyone to have immediate access whether they need it or not.
Can we define medical urgency? I am sure I can come up with definition but is it relevant who believe they have an urgent problem? What difference will it be if there is no mechanism for garnering resources to deal with urgency? If the public defines urgency and is not required to invest any of their resources to deal with their "urgent" problems, why not define all problems as urgent. I am afraid they will get no better than they are getting now. To borrow from the restaurant world, it is as thought they are expecting fast food prices and timeline at a 5-star restaurant. However, what they are likely get is 5-star restaurant prices, fast food restaurant quality, and consistently bad service.