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Headed to ER? Some post waits by text, billboard

The Washington Post/AP, August 24, 2010

Need an X-ray or stitches? Online, via text message or flashing on a billboard, some emergency rooms are advertising how long the dreaded wait for care will be, with estimates updated every few minutes.  It's a marketing move aimed at less urgent patients, not the true emergencies that automatically go to the front of the line anyway - and shouldn't waste precious minutes checking the wait. "If you're in a car accident, you're not going to flip open your iPhone and see what the wait times are," cautions Sandra Schneider, MD, president-elect of the American College of Emergency Physicians.Despite that fledgling trend, ERs are getting busier, forcing them to try innovative tactics to cut delays - such as stationing doctors at the front door to get a jump-start on certain patients.