So, yes, it definitely sucks to wait 19 hours before seeing a doctor. Yes, broken legs hurt. Unfortunately, unless there is cardiovascular compromise, they're not an emergency to the same degree as that of a heart attack, stroke, major trauma, etc. Perhaps $136 is a bit steep to charge the patient, but then again, that helps cover the electronic kiosk where she checked in (equipment, software, and maintenance), the salary of the nurse who evaluated her, the chart that was generated for her (not sure if it was paper or EMR), and the upkeep of the lobby and clinic rooms. I don't know whether $136 is high, low, or appropriate.
Unfortunately, what do you expect in an emergency room that saw over 143,000 patients in 2005? (http://www.parklandhospital.com/medical_services/er.html) And this patient, by declaring her intention not to pay, is just adding to the strain on large public hospitals like Parkland. Did she plan to pay for her xrays and cast?
Waiting 19 hours sucks. Not knowing how long you'll be waiting sucks, but is par for the course in the ER. If you say "20 minutes" or "2 hours" and then a massive MI comes in or a patient codes and takes up all the staff, then the waiting patient gets mad anyway. Lose-lose situation.
Just another example of our imploding healthcare system.
Addendum: an opposing viewpoint from The Happy Hospitalist.