EMERGENCY ROOM WAITS DRAG AS PATIENT NUMBERS RISE

July 29, 2010

Emergency room patients in Kansas had to wait an average of five hours and 43 minutes until they were seen by a physician, according to the most recent annual report from Press Ganey Associates Inc., a consulting firm that offers services and research to health care providers.  That's 21 minutes longer than last year and almost two hours longer than across the state line in Missouri.  The wait makes Kansas the second-worst in the nation, ahead of Utah's average wait time of eight hours and 17 minutes. 

Other findings: 

  • Missouri ranked 21st on Press Ganey's list, with an average wait of three hours and 56 minutes.
  • Nationwide, the average wait time was four hours and seven minutes in 2009, up four minutes from 2008. Kansas's wait time increased by 21 minutes, and Missouri's by three minutes. 

Fewer U.S. hospitals have emergency rooms, and those ERs are treating more patients, says the Kansas City Business Journal: 

  • The number of ER visits increased from 90 million in 1990 to 123 million in 2008, according to the American Health Association and the National Center for Health Statistics.
  • The same organizations found that the number of hospitals with emergency rooms decreased from 5,000 in 1991 to 4,000 in 2006.
  • At the University of Kansas Hospital, ER visits increased by almost 3,000 from fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2010.
  • Truman Medical Centers saw 64,171 ER visits during the year ended June 30 -- 5 percent more than during the previous fiscal year.
  • Yet TMC cut its waiting time by 44 minutes; the current average wait time is 84 minutes, down from 128 minutes last year. 

Federal health reform aims to decrease emergency room visits by providing incentives and coverage for preventive care -- the idea being to get people to seek medical attention before a health problem becomes a medical emergency.  But some say it will have the opposite effect. 

The National Center for Policy Analysis estimated that insuring between 32 million and 34 million more people -- half of whom will be covered through Medicaid, which represents the largest percentage of emergency room visits -- will add between 848,000 and 901,000 emergency room visits a year. 

Source: Aly Van Dyke, "Emergency room waits drag as patient numbers rise," Kansas City Business Journal, July 28, 2010. 

For text:

http://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/blog/2010/07/emergency_room_waits_drag_as_patient_numbers_rise.html  

For Press Ganey report:

http://www.pressganey.com/cs/about_the_emergency_department_pulse_report  

For NCPA report:

http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba709 

 

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