WTAP @ 5 To Your Health Report: ER Waits

By: Patty Lane
By: Patty Lane

Many of us are used to waiting for medical treatment in the emergency room.

But some people are fed up with the delays and are leaving before they can get help.

Patty Lane tells us more in today's Health Minute.

More and more Americans are leaving the emergency room without being treated.

They get frustrated with long wait times and go home, according to research presented at a meeting of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

But that frustration could be life-threatening.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 92% of the people who go to the ER have a condition that needs attention that day.

So what's the hold up in the ER?

Researchers found it was a combination of factors, ranging from fewer er facilities across the country to a shortage of hospital staff, particularly nurses.

Also patients are being held or boarded in the er too long before being taken to an in-patient bed.

That prevents new patients from coming in and being treated .
Additional research suggests some hospitals are tackling the problem by holding those responsible accountable.

When staff members reported incidents of ER boarding to higher ups, the number of cases declined.

People were taken to their in-patient rooms faster and ER wait times were reduced.

The researchers stress hospitals need to address wait times, because the problem is not going away.

ER visits jumped from 117 million in 2007 to more than 123 million in 2008.

For today's Health Minute, I'm Patty Lane.

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