This has led to more individuals seeking treatment for primary care within the emergency department. Though these advances have made treatment from simple injuries to major illness more treatable, it has also led to increases in the patient population requiring treatment, and has therefore lead to increased wait times in emergency departments. With increased access to care from the newly affordable care act, the amount of individuals seeking treatment in emergency departments will only continue to grow, and therefore lead to greater waiting times, therefore it is up to healthcare professionals to find a way to provide top quality care within the emergency department while providing care at reasonably paced time frames to decrease waiting periods.
In order to get to a resolution and effective way to minimize waiting times for patients, it requires healthcare professionals to know why patients are waiting as long as they are. In order to solve the problem, one must understand why the problem has started in the first place. One key issue to note is that patients are waiting longer now than they did before. The centers for disease control shows that between 1999 through 2009, emergency department
(ED) visits increased by approximately 32%, from roughly 102.8 million visits annually to
136.1 million visits annually in 2009 (CDC, 2012). Other significant findings show integral information on mean waiting times in the U.S., showing that from 2003 through 2009, mean waiting times in emergency departments increased by 25% from approximately 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes(CDC, 2012).
Knowing that with larger patient populations seeking treatment within the ED it is imperative to know why it is taking as long as it is. One way to gain information is to survey
patients coming in from the waiting., asking what their presenting concern was, and how long they expected to wait. This information is vital for healthcare professionals to know what to look for in regards to look for in what patients expect regarding waiting time. Every patient coming in from the waiting room would be given this survey, except for patients known to come into the ED in excess of four times a month, patients with severe mental health issues, and patients with a history of safety alerts within the hospital. Measuring how long patients have waited to be seen can be extremely influential to get a broad basis to understand why patients have been waiting (Andrews, 2008). Patient information regarding waiting times is imperative to to understand what it is they expect, and how realistic these expectations are. In the competitive industry of healthcare it is essential to know what patients are thinking, what they expect, and how the hospital can meet those expectations while still providing quality care. Another tool to be utilized is to measure how long wait times are based on patient acuity. In the ED, triage is rated from five to one, with one being the most emergent problem that requires life saving intervention, to five, which is a patient requiring little to no resources for their presenting problem. Using the electronic charting system to clock the patients long they waited from the waiting room to triage, and from triage to their respective room for ED treatment. Lastly healthcare professionals should be surveyed, asking them how long they believe waiting times should be, and asking them what resources they believe they would need to expedite patient care.
With the data obtained to understand ED waiting times, tools can be used to discover causes or potential causes to longer waiting times in the ED. Research is showing that one of the largest factors