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A Look at Patients’ Willingness to Wait for ED Care

A Look at Patients’ Willingness to Wait for ED Care

As the number of patients seeking emergency care in the United States continues to grow, so too has ED crowding and boarding. “Throughout the country, there has been an increase in volume of ED patients and boarding of patients waiting to be admitted to the hospital,” says Sanober Shaikh Syed, MD. “This can prolong wait times for many patients seeking emergency care. EDs nationwide are struggling to balance demand with capacity.” Prior studies have shown that the longer patients wait, the more likely they are to leave without being seen (LWBS). These analyses have also revealed that a significant portion of patients who LWBS are classified as needing emergent or urgent medical care. A key question that remains unanswered is how long patients are willing to wait before they choose to LWBS by a healthcare provider. Waiting Thresholds Before Leaving the ED Dr. Syed and colleagues conducted a study evaluating patients’ threshold for waiting before they choose to leave the ED waiting room without being seen by an ED provider. The study, published in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, also looked at whether willingness to wait was influenced by other factors, including illness severity, age, and insurance status. “Knowing the limits to which patients will wait may be useful in tailoring strategies to reduce wait times,” Dr. Syed says.   In the study, patients who were triaged were given a questionnaire to determine how long they would wait for medical care. The authors also assessed data on age, gender, race, insurance status, and triage acuity level. More than half of the 340 patients who answered the survey were...
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