Risk of Long ER Wait Times
The issue of long wait times in Emergency Rooms across the country has become a widespread crisis. There are countless stories of patients who needed emergency care, and instead of receiving immediate attention they had to spend hours waiting to see a doctor.
Aside from the obvious inconvenience of having to wait, studies have identified the Emergency Department (ED) overcrowding as a significant threat to public health.
After examining 14 million ER visits, a study found that Emergency Department overcrowding which was measured by the average wait time for a patient to see a doctor was also associated with an increased risk of death or hospital admission and length of stay, after being discharged from the ER.
Other studies, like the one published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, also found that Emergency Room overcrowding was associated with an increased frequency of medication errors as well as medication not being dispensed as needed.
Why Do Emergency Rooms Become Overcrowded?
The overcrowding crisis is mostly a problem that affects hospital ED’s, and no single cause can accurately explain it, instead is a plethora of factors that stem of a fundamental mismatch of too many patients and not enough physicians and hospital resources.
The reason why overcrowding affects hospital ED’s more than freestanding ER’s is that patients who come to the emergency room that need to be admitted to the hospital remain in the ER until the hospital can accommodate them. In other words, it is not the ER that is overcrowded, it’s the hospital that is overcrowded.
How Do ER’s Process Patients?
When a patient arrives at an ER, he is evaluated by a Triage nurse to determine how sick the patient is. The nurse will asses the severity of the illness or injury an assign a patient acuity level.
- Acuity level 1 is for patients who are dying or in imminent risk of death
- Acuity level 2 is for patients who should not wait to be seen by a doctor
- Other subsequent acuity levels are determined by the type and severity of the illness
Under normal circumstances, the Triage protocol works well, however, under overcrowded conditions patients run the risk of being overlooked, or their symptoms not being assessed correctly. Which could lead to a worsening of symptoms, longer recovery times, or even death.
Data from a study published a decade ago, shows that in overcrowded ER’s, patients who need to be seen by a doctor within 1 to 14 minutes wait an average of 37 minutes to receive a full evaluation and start treatment. It also showed that just 14% of ED’s meet the target of seeing patients deemed at Triage to need care within the hour in the recommended time frame.
How Long Will It Take for You to Receive Treatment in the ER
According to the latest data published by ProPublica ER Wait Watcher the average wait time for a patient to be seen by a doctor in the ER in the state of Texas is 19 minutes.
While this might seem reasonable; for stroke or a heart attack patients who need immediate care, waiting 19 minutes to receive treatment could result in a lifetime of disability or death.
How Do Freestanding ER’s Compare
Freestanding ER’s are not only providing much-needed emergency care for rural areas who do not have access to a hospital, but they are also helping to mitigate the effects of the overcrowding crisis of hospital ED’s.
Many patients who require emergency medical attention but, may not need to be admitted to the hospital fair better when they attend a freestanding emergency center, as these facilities have little to no wait times.
And patients with critical acuity levels can also benefit from receiving care at a freestanding ER which can diagnose, stabilize and start treatment for patients who can later be transferred to a hospital for admittance.
At Prestige ER we offer the same or better standard of care than hospital ED’s in the area, and with no wait times, patients report higher satisfaction levels, faster recovery times, and less adverse effects.
Our center is equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging machines, a certified full-service laboratory, and pediatric ER care, and is capable of handling any medical emergency.
At Prestige ER we provide quality emergency medical care with minimal wait times, additionally, when you visit us, you can be assured you will be attended by the most qualified staff and specialists, making us the best choice in emergency care in the Plano area.
We accept most private health insurance plans and our Patient Advocate department is available to process insurance claims and appeals on your behalf. If you do not have health insurance or if your claim is denied, our Patient Advocate staff will gladly design a payment plan that adjusts to your financial capabilities.
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