Now we know why they call it a “waiting room.”
A study from Harvard today finds that the length of time one has to wait in an emergency room is increasing. The study found waiting times in ERs increased 36 percent for all patients from 1997 to 2004, which translates to an average of 30 minutes per patient. But as many as a quarter of heart attack patients had to wait 50 minutes or longer.
Are emergency rooms at the breaking point? Many hospitals are closing their emergency rooms. The ones that are opened are said to be understaffed and overwhelmed. And with cutbacks in — in Minnesota’s case — subsidized health care plans, politicians and others have warned that people without coverage will show up in ERs. Has that happened? Spokespersons for two of the largest ERs in Minnesota — Regions Hospital in St. Paul and Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis — did not return my phone calls on Tuesday.
Have you had an emergency room experience lately? Feel like sharing?