If you have to go to the emergency room, it is likely because you need to be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. However, if you’ve ever gone to the ER and sat for hours on end waiting to be seen, you know how frustrating seeking that help can be.
Long wait times and problems with patient assessments are among the most common issues seen in emergency rooms. For many people, that visit is nothing more than an attempt to get them stable enough to see their regular doctor, and that means that serious illnesses or medical conditions could be missed.
How long is a normal emergency room wait?
The average wait time Americans see in an emergency room is around 40 minutes. That being said, over 22 million people waiting in the ER had to wait to be seen for over an hour in 2017. For someone in pain or distress, that hour-long wait can make a significant difference in their health.
What causes long waits in emergency rooms?
Patients who have long wait times can usually thank others who have come to the ER when they don’t truly have an emergency or could have been seen by a general practitioner or urgent care. Although many emergencies rooms use a triage process, the triage design does mean that those without significant injuries or illnesses may have to wait longer than others.
Unfortunately, some people with serious illnesses and injuries may be missed because of their lack of life-threatening symptoms or significant pain.
Why are malpractice claims more common for emergency room providers?
The reason that malpractice claims are more likely come down to two things. One is the likelihood of being seen in a reasonable amount of time and receiving an adequate patient assessment. Delayed treatment and a rushed assessment could lead to serious issues for a sick patient.
The second issue is the lack of a diagnosis or an incorrect diagnosis. This is more likely due to not having the patient’s long-term medical history or not ordering the correct tests.
As a patient, it is your right to be seen in a reasonable amount of time and to receive the highest standard of care. If a delay results in injuries, then the medical team should be held accountable.