The emergency department is chaotic, loud, and untidy. But if there is a common character trait of everyone, the patients, and the staff, it would be that everyone endures. They endure the long wait hours, the endless bureaucratic lists to check, and the uncertainty of what comes through that door. Some patients have to endure what happens outside of the ED: not knowing where, or worrying about not having enough food for them or their family.
The research article examined in the summer of 2019 how many of the patients that are coming to the ED with high blood sugar are food insecure. We found nearly half of patients with high blood sugar were food insecure, and were more likely to be admitted to the hospital, than discharged from the ED.
The results are concerning, especially since COVID-19 has likely exacerbated and made more Americans feel food insecure at some point, especially for Black and Hispanic Americans.
What can be done?
We know handing out phone numbers for food banks isn’t likely going to be effective. With this study and more to come, we hope to develop a more responsive healthcare system to address the immediate and long-term needs of our patients, so that they have one less thing they have to endure.