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Patients may be suffering from lengthy emergency room wait times

When you need to be treated at the emergency department of your local hospital, you are likely suffering from a pressing health condition that requires urgent attention. However, due to overcrowding, emergency room error rates and other contributing factors, you and others like you may not be treated urgently at all after you sign in at the emergency department.

According to a new study and various local media reports, wait times at emergency departments are skyrocketing. As a result, patients in pressing need of medical attention are being forced to wait unacceptable lengths of time before being seen and treated.

It can sometimes be difficult to adequately staff emergency departments as the patient population of these institutions tends to ebb and flow. However, at obviously busy times like weekend evenings, it not only makes sense to have a fully staffed emergency department it is critical to patient safety that these departments are running at full strength.

While a limited number of hospitals have reported that they are improving upon their emergency department wait times, a staggering number of hospitals are struggling to keep up with the influx of patients requiring emergency care. This trend is only serving to harm those patients waiting to be taken care of.

While some injuries and illnesses allow patients in stable condition to wait for some time to be seen, other urgent conditions can worsen dramatically or can produce devastating side effects if they are not treated properly and immediately. As a result, soaring wait times for emergency department treatment should be treated as a critical safety issue by hospitals nationwide.

Source: FierceHealthcare.com, “ER wait times on rise nationwide,” Katie Sullivan, Feb. 27, 2014

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