It is 2010, you have been sitting in an Accident & Emergency waiting room for 3 hours and 50 minutes waiting to be seen.
Of the people before you who has been seen, on average 21% were admitted to hospital. You are not like them though, as you have a special condition, completely invisible and symptom free.
As you have been sitting there for almost 4 hours this condition will start causing problems. Not for you, but for the Doctors and Nurses who see your invisible illness climax. Something you may not even be aware of will start to cause problems for these Doctors. The cure is to admit you to hospital. As you approach sitting there for almost 4 hours your invisible illness strikes home hard. You now have a 66% chance of being admitted to hospital compared with 21% of everyone else who was seen before you.
Your invisible illness that made you three times more likely to be admitted to hospital, regardless of what you went to A&E for, was targetitis!
The disease was caused by the existence of a 4 hour target on waiting times in A&E. The affected medical staff’s ability to deal with your needs and instead they dealt with the needs of the hospital managers to meet their targets. Being admitted to hospital costs money, it is stressful and if you are three times more likely to be admitted then it is unlikely that you should have been admitted at all. So you end up being treated for targetitis, an illness you didn’t have until you arrived at A&E where the targets used to live.
Can you spot the target?
This graph shows the time in minutes that patients waited in accident and emergency departments in hospital before they were either seen, treated and discharged, or admitted to hospital.
This is in the past. The 4 hour waiting time target was abolished. Waiting times have gone up, the number of people who wait for more than 4 hours has increased by 63% but nobody suffers from targetitis now, as they won’t be admitted to hospital unnecessarily because a target has to be met.