Wait Times in Emergency Departments Surge

John Commins, July 22, 2010

Patients last year averaged a record of four hours and seven minutes spent in the nation’s emergency departments—a four minute increase over 2008 wait times, and a 31-minute increase since reports were made available in 2002, according to a new review from Press Ganey Associates, Inc.

Press Ganey’s 2010 Emergency Department Pulse Report: Patient Perspectives on American Health Care, is based on evaluations of more than 1.5 million patients treated at 1,893 hospitals in 2009.

Utah had the longest wait, with an average emergency department time of 8:17—nearly an hour and a half longer than the state’s average time spent last year.


Iowa had the shortest average time spent at just under three hours (2:55), followed by South Dakota (2:59), North Dakota (3:07), Nebraska (3:08) and Minnesota (3:11). More than half the states were able to improve wait times or keep increases to a minimum. Nevada made the biggest improvement in 2009, reducing average wait time by 66 minutes since 2008.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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