Wait A Minute! – ED Wait Times

An AP article in the Tuesday edition of The Telegraph covered the increasingly popular practice of displaying Emergency Department wait times on bulletin boards. Some ED’s are advertising how long the wait for care will be in their ED. It is real-time information that allows the consumer to make a choice about where to receive care.
According to Dr. Nick Jouriles, emergency medicine chief at Akron General Hospital in Ohio, “The longer people stay in the emergency department, the more likely they’re going to have complications, deaths. If they’re elderly, they’re more likely to end up in a nursing home.”
So how does KSB compare? I went back and looked at Arbor (KSB’s patient satisfaction vendor) data beginning in April 2001. In this time period of over 9 years 1,904 patients were surveyed. An amazing 84.7% (1,613) self-reported as being seen in less than 30 minutes.

If you carry this out to 1 hour the percentage jumps to 91.5%! 9 out of 10 patients surveyed are seen in less than one hour. I’ll put that up against any ED in the country.
Do we have rare examples of patients that wait several hours in KSB’s ED? Sure we do. Dr. Gould and her team of physicians see patients based on acuity. The sickest get seen first. The statistics reported are snapshots; some people do experience long waits. But I know our nurses and physicians work hard every day to provide world-class care in a timely manner, and I couldn’t be more proud of the work they do.
Do you have suggestions on how to decrease ED wait times? Hit the comment button and give me your thoughts.
– Dave
1 Comment
  • Sue Prosch
    Posted at 15:16h, 26 August Reply

    Although, the current trend is to advertise ED wait times as a marketing strategy, this could lead to patient’s not seeking care in a timely manner (Clark, 2009). For example, the patient may be sitting at home with what they feel is simple heart burn or jaw pain; when, in all likelihood they could be experiencing a heart attack. As you know, at KSB we triage every patient and see them in order of the severity of their illness. The person presenting with heart burn and/or jaw pain may not feel like they are having a heart attack, but the experienced triage nurse will check the patient’s vital signs which may tell a different story along with how the patient looks. This type of patient could become a high priority and would be seen much quicker than other patients.

    As you stated, our Arbor scores tell a different story. What ED has the right to complain about long wait times when 92% of the patient’s surveyed feel they were seen in less than one hour! Those are amazing statistics and something to be very proud of. Unfortunately, as is often said, the squeaky wheel gets the most attention; as in when a patient is surveyed and felt there was a long wait time, you see it throughout the entire survey.

    In a recent survey, “In 2008, the average time spent in the emergency department, including wait time and time spent with a doctor, was 243 minutes" (Neale, 2009). At KSB our average length of stay in the ED is approximately 98 minutes, that is a far cry from the national average! Some of the techniques we are working on to improve patient satisfaction is keeping patients informed about the delays and being realistic with the patient, if the wait is going to be 2 hours then we say the wait will be 2 hours.

    Congratulations to all of the KSB Emergency Department nurses and physicians who provide quality, evidence-based care to our patients every day.

    Sue Prosch, MSN, RN
    Director of Emergency Department

Post A Comment

%d bloggers like this: