6 Reasons for longer wait times in Emergency Rooms and Hospitals

It is a position in which no one ever wants to be. You rush to the emergency room at a hospital with primary healthcare and then receive only dozens of others who also require emergency care and emergency treatment, some with minor symptoms and some others with significant causes. There’s no need for immediate medical attention. You are looking forward to your name at the emergency room minute after minute, hour after hour.

According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, long ER wait times are exceedingly typical across all of the United States. But what causes such long delays in emergency departments, in addition to the number of patients? Here are seven causes of this widespread problem:

Why there are longer wait times at the emergency rooms and hospitals?

Here are top 6 reasons for longer wait times in Emergency Rooms and Hospitals.

Triage

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Whether it’s in the grocery store checkout line or waiting to be served at a restaurant, society has adopted the concept of “first come, first serve” in every other aspect of our life. As a result, we anticipate emergency care facilities to be the same. However, emergency departments treat patients differently. Patients are assigned a level of urgency based on the severity of their wound or disease, a process known as “triage.” The greater the level of speed, the sooner a patient gets admitted. A patient with a mild symptom, such as a bit of cut or burn, may have to wait behind individuals with higher levels of urgency, such as heart discomfort symptoms or significant injuries. While this can be inconvenient, it allows emergency department personnel to assist patients in need of acute care more quickly and may even save lives.

Diagnosis

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The time it takes to diagnose each patient is another element that contributes to extended ER wait times. Depending on the disease or damage, emergency physicians must first rule out life-threatening diseases before administering blood tests, X-rays, CT scans, and other lab work. For ERs that do not have convenient access to imaging equipment and labs, it might take hours, if not days, to finish these tests and analyze the results, resulting in lengthy wait times for people waiting to be admitted. For faster service, RMB suggests emergency rooms to have in-house imaging equipment and labs that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Boarding

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Every hospital or emergency room facility has a limited number of beds available for patients to rest while being diagnosed and treated. This figure represents the number of patients an emergency room physician can assist at the same time. While most instances result in same-day discharge or transfer to another department, some patients require extended boarding durations.

Specialists and other Physicians

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Although emergency physicians are available 24 hours a day, specialists and other physicians are not in seven days a week. If a patient needs a diagnosis or treatment from a neurologist, cardiologist, or pulmonologist, it may take some time to react to their page and arrive at the ER. The patient remains in an emergency room bed while waiting for the specialist, resulting in – you guessed it – higher ER wait times.

Here is what RMB suggests…

Emergency room facilities and hospitals should redesign their access to specialists so that they can be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Closures of Emergency Rooms

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According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, thousands of emergency rooms in hospitals have been closed down in the last decade. That creates a supply and demand issue. People in need turn to fewer and fewer emergency rooms, resulting in more crowded waiting rooms and longer wait times.

Busy schedules

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Many hospitals and emergency rooms schedule most of their employees to work Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. That, however, does not correspond with the peak hours for emergency rooms. The majority of crises occur after work hours, at night, or on weekends. When there aren’t enough emergency personnel on hand during these busy times, it leads to packed waiting rooms and long waits.

When you’re in the midst of a medical emergency, every second feels like a minute, and every minute feels like an hour. The last thing you need to ensure in an emergency is to sit for hours in a waiting room, suffering or watching a friend or loved one suffer. So emergency rooms should apply direct-to-bed policy for medical emergencies.

Conclusion: 

Emergency room facilities and hospitals should have in-house imaging equipment and labs that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Emergency room facilities and hospitals should redesign their access to specialists so that they can be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Emergency room facilities and hospitals should apply direct-to-bed policy for medical emergencies.

Learn more about how RMB’s Consultation team can help your Emergency Room and Hospital operations and billing. Contact us at 281-864-0448, send us an email at info@rightmedicalbilling.com.

 

Written by: Kaynat Ishfaq

Author has been writing from last 4 years in Healthcare and medical billing field.

Other contributors:

Ayesha Kanwal

Marketing Specialist, SEO Specialist, Content Writer and Social Media Marketing Expert

Shahzad H

Revenue Cycle Management Consultant, Medical Billing & AR Audit, Free Standing Emergency Rooms, Micro Hospitals, Compliance, OON Negotiations, Digital Marketing

 

 

 

 

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medical billing, medical billing and coding, revenue cycle management, accounts receivable recovery, emergency rooms, hospitals, free-standing er billing, free-standing emergency room, out of network negotiations, prior authorizations

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