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EMERGENCY CARE: We’re Waiting Longer To See Physicians In Emergency Departments

January 16th, 2008

As patient volumes in hospital emergency departments (EDs) are going up, waiting times to see an ED physician are getting longer, particularly for heart attack patients and those in need of the most immediate attention, according to a study by Harvard Medical School researchers at the Cambridge Health Alliance published today as a Health Affairs Web Exclusive.[2-week free access]

The researchers found that the median ED wait time went up from 22 minutes in 1997 to 30 minutes in 2004, a 36 percent increase. For patients diagnosed in the ED with acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack, the median wait time increased a steep 150 percent, from 8 minutes in 1997 to 20 minutes in 2004. And for those identified in ED triage as needing attention “emergently,” wait times increased from 10 minutes in 1997 to 14 minutes in 2004, an increase of 40 percent.

For coverage of the study, go here, here, and here (Wall Street Journal subscription required).

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1 Trackback for “EMERGENCY CARE: We’re Waiting Longer To See Physicians In Emergency Departments”

  1. Health Care BS
    January 16th, 2008 at 4:11 pm

1 Response to “EMERGENCY CARE: We’re Waiting Longer To See Physicians In Emergency Departments”

  1. komgs3 Says:

    The statistics given in this article is really alarming. The average waiting time of 14 minutes as stated is too long for any Emergency department. It is true that every case is unique having its own rescue time. However, ideally this should not exceed 2 to 5 minutes since brain death can occur with in 2 minutes due to insufficient oxygen supply.

    The rising patient volumes can not be declared or accepted as an excuse for this worrying trend. I think it is the responsibility of the Hospital to find viable alternatives including adequate Staffing and Floating to tackle this serious issue.

    The saddest thing one can hear is that a death could have been prevented had some action been taken a minute earlier. In an Emergency Department life and death hinges on minutes and seconds.

    Komala RN
    GS3 India Pvt. Ltd

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