Emergency department wait times
Kevin Craven is director of Emergency Services at Banner Desert Medical Center.
Question: I heard that there are often long waits in the Emergency Room to see a doctor. Why is this, and what is being done to improve the situation?
Answer: Many factors contribute to overcrowded conditions and long waits in Emergency departments, including seasonal illnesses, time of day or night, and staffing, to name a few.
Nobody wants patients to have to wait, but often times it is unavoidable for those whose life is not in danger to have to wait at least a few hours. Patients are treated based on the severity of their condition, not on a first-come, first-served basis. So, those with life threatening conditions are treated immediately, no matter when they arrive.
Realizing that many people come to the Emergency Room because they don’t have an alternative, Banner Desert Medical Center has implemented a number of new processes to help move non-critical patients through the emergency department more efficiently. We have implemented what is called a “Split ED Process,” which, essentially, divides the emergency department into two areas – one for non-life-threatening illnesses and the other for life-threatening, or more serious, illnesses.
Our goal with this new process is that at least half of all patients coming through our door will see a doctor within 30 minutes. After just two months, we’re very pleased with the results and are continuing to make improvements.
Our patients have a role in speeding their care as well. It will help greatly if you come to the Emergency department prepared to answer numerous questions about your symptoms, your health history, and your current medications, including when they were prescribed and the dosage.
Also, please be sure to tell us if you have any allergic reactions to medications.
If your illness makes it difficult for you to communicate, it may be helpful to bring one person with you who can talk on your behalf and provide the necessary information to get your care underway.
First and foremost, never postpone seeking medical treatment if you are ill. We would rather you come to the ED and be sent home, than not come and have your condition worsen.