How to Determine Emergency Room Wait times

How to Determine Emergency Room Wait times

Emergency rooms are familiar places for most of us. They take care of every one of us. When you visit an ER, you will meet with small children suffering from skateboard accidents, seniors who need emergency care after a fall, trauma patients, heart attack patients, and patients with gunshot wounds, broken bones, and even car accident victims. Emergency rooms are intended to take care of acute and life-threatening health care needs. However, many ERs have very long queues and are clogged with patients. If you have ever visited most hospital-based ERs, you probably went home with a horror story of the long, tiring, and tedious wait you were subjected to at the ER.

The long ER waiting times is the most frequent complaint from patients who visit these facilities seeking emergency care.

How is ER waiting time calculated?

The Triage Acuity scale is used to determine the waiting time for each patient who visits the ER. The method classifies patients entering the emergency department into five levels of need.

  • The first level is the highest and has patients who are severally injured or are very ill. Such patients require immediate and aggressive medical care because their conditions pose a threat to their lives and if left untreated they can lead to death. The patients in this category include patients suffering from cardiac arrest, and those who are in shock or trauma.
  • Level two is referred to as the emergent level and it includes patients that are suffering from conditions that are a potential threat to life or the function of a limb. These too require rapid medical interventions. Such conditions include head injury, newborns with jaundice, or those with gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • The third level of patient is the one requiring urgent care. Such patients have conditions that could progress to a serious issue that will need immediate intervention. Such patients include those with moderate trauma, those with mild to moderate asthma or shortness of breath or patients who are younger than two years and are suffering from vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Level four patients require less urgent care. They are patients whose conditions are due to the patient’s age, distress or the condition is due to complications that can be solved by intervention within one or two hours. Such health conditions include an earache, urinary symptoms, or mild abdominal pain.
  • The last category or level five are patients with non-urgent medical conditions. These include patients suffering from health problems whose interventions can be delayed or referred to other healthcare facilities. Some of the examples of problems in this category include a sore throat, psychiatric complaints that are not related to suicidal attempts and conditions that are related to chronic problems.

Why the long waiting time at the ER

Many patients who visit the ER have no idea of the triage method used to care for the patients in the ER. Most patients visiting the ER think that their problem is urgent and their needs should be prioritized. Such people often take the place of patients who truly require emergent and immediate care. Some of these people can be found in beds in the ER waiting to be admitted taking up the beds required for patients in need of immediate care. This makes it hard to access the emergency rooms for both the patients with simple and complex cases.

If you are assessed and the doctor concludes that you need immediate or emergent care, you might have zero or very short waiting time. However, in case your problem is categorized as level 3, 4, or 5 you might have to wait for a longer time. This is because emergency departments have limited number of staff to meet all the patient’s needs.

Another challenge that might see you waiting longer in the ER is that some seriously ill or injured patients who require immediate attention often arrive at the ER through another entrance using an ambulance. You might see that you are not very many in the waiting room but the doctor is taking too long to call you. The reason, the doctors might be very busy treating critically ill patients who were brought in by an ambulance.

In other instances, certain patients suffering from minor injuries might be called in earlier than others because they can be cared for very fast and this will give room for others to be cared for.

Why Visit Frontline ER

More freestanding ERs are emerging to solve the problem of long waiting time at hospital-based ERs. At Frontline ER, our services and capabilities are just like the ones offered by hospital ERs. However, our waiting time is almost zero. Our emergency board-certified doctors certified by the American Board of emergency medicine offer the best services to you and your loved ones.

Our caring and friendly staff will treat you like family. We want you to feel comfortable and be sure that you are in safe hands. You are just not another patient to us you are our family. We do a follow up with each patient to ensure they are progressing well with the treatment.


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