wait times hurting ED patients
patient visits and fewer emergency departments have resulted in longer ED wait times, according to a report published online
by the journal HealthAffairs. The report, Waits To See an Emergency
Department Physician: U.S. Trends and Predictors, 1997–2004,
is based on a review of more than 92,000 emergency department visits.
the most alarming findings of the researchers from Harvard Medical School
is the increase in treatment delays for heart patients. Heart attack patients
were waiting 2.5 times longer in 2004 than in 1997, from 8 to 20 minutes.
Overall, patients who were designated by a triage nurse as needing immediate
attention waited 40 percent longer — from an average of 10 minutes
in 1997 to an average 14 minutes in 2004. “Given the benefits of
rapid treatment of heart attacks, sepsis, stroke, pneumonia, and trauma,
longer wait times could diminish the quality of care in EDs,” says
physicians have said for years that crowding and long wait times are hurting
our patients — insured and uninsured equally," comments Dr.
Linda Lawrence, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians
in an article released by Reuters International. "Ever-lengthening
waits are a frightening trend because any delays in care can make the
difference between life and death for some patients. The number of emergency
patients is increasing while the number of hospital beds continues to
drop. It is a recipe for disaster."
President John Wagner says the findings, while alarming, are not surprising.
“The report confirms our company’s mission to help emergency
physicians and other caregivers by making the decision support process
as fast as possible. Consulting PEPID ED means finding answers more quickly
during an emergency, seeing more patients, and providing better informed
care,” says Wagner. “Fast access to decision support at point-of-care
is critical because it improves workflow for Emergency Departments and
saves precious time
by emergency physicians for the emergency department, PEPID ED provides
instant access to detailed information on trauma, toxicology, procedures,
CBRNE, ACLS, psychiatric and pediatric conditions. It is also a complete
drug database with a drug interactions generator, an interactive IV drug
compatibility tool, and medical calculators fully-integrated into medical
The researchers found that ED visits increased up to 26 percent between
1994 and 2004. The number of EDs in the U.S. decreased up to 12 percent,
during the same period. The result was a 78 percent increase in the number
of visits per emergency department between 1995 and 2003. The report,
authored by Wilper et al, is available online at Health Affairs.