ED waiting room patients offered $10 to leave

via Kevin, MD, who must have the AP newswire in his living room…

Woman files complaint that doctor offered patients $10 to go home

Frank Dobrovnik
Local News – Wednesday, January 17, 2007 Updated @ 7:27:58 AM

An Echo Bay woman plans to file a complaint with Sault Area Hospital that an emergency room doctor was offering patients $10 to go home.
Diane Edwards had been waiting eight hours to get a prescription refilled when a physician told the “room full of people he’d pay them $10” each if they left, she told CBC Radio in Sudbury this week.
“I didn’t appreciate it, being there for that long,” said Edwards, who does not have a family doctor.

I don’t know of a working emergency physician who hasn’t at least thought it, and I occasionally joke about it, but someone has an impulse control problem, at best.

Oh, and the ED isn’t a place to go to get your prescription refilled.  Sorry.


  1. There is at least one follow up article on this, that is worth reading. Go back to the original article and do a search on it, and you’ll find it.

    Unfortunately, it appears that in Canada, that the ER is exactly where they go to refill prescriptions.

  2. canadian med student says:

    While I agree that the ER isn’t a good place to go to refill prescriptions, there is a serious shortage of family docs all over Canada. So it’s not quite as simple a situation as it seems, imho.

  3. When you think about it, what harm did it do? No one was told their problem didn’t merit attention, or that they wouldn’t be seen if they waited or even that they couldn’t come back later if they wanted. If they didn’t want to leave, or take the money, they didn’t have to do anything at all. The public wasn’tpaying, either. No one was getting rich by that offer; the offer was cab fare, if that, a token payment.

    It isn’t manipulative, or dishonest, or for that matter unethical. In fact it is inspired. Maybe brilliant. Certainly interesting, in the human behavior, relative valuation and free choice way of experimentation.

    Of course that won’t keep the jowel shakers and underpants bunchers from getting all worked up.

  4. As an ex-ER waiting room clown (they’re like rodeo clowns, but for ER waiting rooms), I applaud the guy for his sense of humor. I used to periodically venture forth into the tense, crowded waiting room and offer “No. 1 Patient” stickers, balloons, and jokes to break the ice and get people to relax a little while they endured their wait. One time I took out a bunch of ice paks for injuries and somebody asked me where they should put it—and I replied: “The hurtin’est spot”…

  5. Family doc says:

    I work shifts in a busy Canadian ER and they come in all the time for scripts and get belligerent when they have to wait.
    We have plenty of GP s in our town- this is what happens when you have no user fees!

  6. TheNewGuy says:

    I’ve gone out into the waiting room myself and advised patients that they’re looking at a long wait/night, and that if they’ve a minor problem that can wait, that they might be better-served by seeing their family doctor. I always advise that we’re happy to see them, and that they WILL get seen eventually… but that the line is already around the building.

    I’ve never offered money though… that’s actually pretty funny.

    Apparently the complainant doesn’t have a regular physician, but DOES have some kind of ongoing health problem… so she should bloody well GET a family doc. One would think it would fit into ones schedule better than spending eight hours in the ER waiting room for a non-emergent problem. That presumes, I suppose, that one is involved in things (job, kids, etc) that require some scheduling around… maybe she’s retired.

    Anyone care to make a gentleman’s wager on what medicine was being refilled?

  7. I’ve always said that if the greeter just had a pile of vicodin prescriptions to hand out we’d only see about 15 patients a day!

  8. I don’t understand the complaint–was the offer too low?

  9. Handing out work excuses is much less expensive and doesn’t make nearly as many waves in the media.

  10. The ones that will take your 10 are usually the ones that can be seen and dispo’ed in only a minute or so longer than it takes to give them the $ – so, I use my triage rooms to see these people rapidly and save my money…
    ps – just discovered this site – i was the on duty doc in the ed when the “nurse rap” video linked on your site was done… Thanks for the link. Craig, who did the video, performs a rap of sorts each year at our resident graduation dinner – quite an entertaining guy…

  11. soar_loosers says:

    Oh for Pete’s sakes, now they’re gonna come in hoards wanting the $10 bucks.