Futterman, Sirotkin And Seinfeld, LLP
Futterman, Sirotkin And Seinfeld, LLP

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Examining the increase in ER wait times

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2015 | Failure to Diagnose |

Many in Queens have probably seen the comedy sketches showing the skeletonized remains of people sitting in the waiting rooms at doctors’ offices or in hospitals. Yet behind the humor lies a disturbing trend that’s quickly becoming an issue in America’s emergency rooms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that from 2003 to 2009, the average patient wait time in ERs across the country increased from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes.

That same study showed that during the same time period, the number of total visits to ERs per year also increased significantly, from 102.8 million to 136.1 million. Overcrowding in emergency rooms has long been linked to increased patient wait times, as the effects of it contribute to many of the other factors that can keep patients from being seen in a timely manner.

With more patients comes more strain on the attention of medical staff. This leads to delays in evaluating and diagnosing patients already in rooms, which leads to more time being taken to clear those rooms for new patients. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, the average length of stay in the ER was an astounding 4 hours and 7 minutes.

Unfortunately, treatment in an ER is not given on a “first come, first serve” basis. The triage process is meant to determine which cases are the most critical. However, up front diagnoses are often simply based on a quick assessment, and thus can fail to accurately indicate the full severity of a patient’s problem. This can lead to a potentially dangerous delay in care. It’s often these delays in treatment that result in cases requiring the assistance of Queens emergency room error attorneys.