Why Decreasing Hospital Wait Times Helps with Overall Safety
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia conducts studies and maintains statistics on many hospital-related issues. Research by the CDC indicates that Emergency Room (ER) wait times in the U.S. have increased by approximately 25% over the last decade while ERs across the country have been closing; leaving patients with fewer than 4,000 ERs nationwide and creating an environment that sometimes impacts overall hospital safety.
Long Waits in the ER Affect Patient Safety and Outcomes
Long waits in an emergency room definitely affect patient outcomes, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians. Some patients get tired of waiting, especially in large urban facilities, and leave without receiving any medical treatment while others may have to wait dangerously long for care due to ER resources being stretched too thin. Some ER staffs become so overwhelmed that they are forced to divert ambulances to other facilities, further delaying patient care. Other ERs become overcrowded due to the practice of boarding, which involves holding patients in the ER when there is no bed available in the hospital. All of these situations have a negative effect on patient safety.
Implementing Efficient Processes to Reduce Wait Times
A recent article in the Naples News reports that one Florida hospital is striving to not only reduce wait times in the ER, but make the time spent there more pleasant for patients and their families. Gulf Coast Medical Center in Panama City, Florida is one of 162 hospitals nationwide owned by the Nashville, Tennessee based Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). The hospital