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Hospital ED Wait Times Reveal Huge Variations

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 7, 2012

Hospital leaders who believe their emergency room patients' wait times compare well with competitors may have to rethink those assumptions now that two ED wait time quality metrics are posted on the Hospital Compare website.

The times for the 74 hospitals—the first to volunteer their data—show wide variation across the country.

For example, for the first measure (ED-1)—the median time between when patients enter the ED door until they leave the ED for an inpatient bed—times range from 387 minutes at Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital in Niagara Falls, NY, and 358 minutes for Memorial Hermann Baptist Orange Hospital in Orange, TX, to 52 minutes at Perry Memorial Hospital in Perry, OK, and 90 minutes at Paynesville Area Hospital in Paynesville, MN.

Best-practice hospitals keep this time under four hours for all patients, not just as the median, says Sandra Schneider, MD, past president of the American College of Emergency Physicians who has studied the issue and visited EDs around the country. However, 18 of the 74 hospitals posted median times of four hours or longer.

Times for the second metric in the database (ED-2)—the median time between the moment an ED doctor decides to admit patients to an inpatient bed and the time the patients actually left the ED for that bed—range from 170 minutes, both at Memorial Hermann Baptist Hospital in Beaumont, TX, and Niagara Falls Memorial, to no minutes at both Frio Regional Hospital in Pearsall, TX, and Pocahontas Memorial Hospital in Buckeye, WV.

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3 comments on "Hospital ED Wait Times Reveal Huge Variations"


Bevmcpeak (5/16/2012 at 10:24 PM)
The 2012 criteria from McKesson requires a 3hour stay for chf , reeval, then decide for admit/observation .go figure

RAJAT BHATT (5/11/2012 at 3:53 PM)
The flip side is unnecessary and inappropriate admissions - in a bid to decrease ED WAIT TIMES the physicians start admitting everyone without waiting for an appropriate workup to see if the patient needs to be admitted

Jay Shiver (5/7/2012 at 11:03 AM)
Ms. Clark, Thank you. This has been my clarion call for 30 years. Perhaps now the idea will gain some traction. It's good to hear that there is recognition that much (most) of the turnaround / process issue rests outside the ED proper and is in the hands of the rest of the hospital. Thank you. Regards, jay