The Implications of Long ER Wait Times Can be Deadly
The increasing emergency room wait times impact patients and the healthcare system in various ways especially in the cases of time sensitive medical emergencies.
Aside from the severe stress and frustration patients and their families feel while waiting to receive medical attention, long wait times also have economic and health repercussions.
There are many factors involved that contribute to overcrowding in ER waiting rooms. Still, despite the causes, studies show that overcrowding reduces patient treatment efficiency and satisfaction.
There are two major implications of long ER wait times:
Patients who don’t receive timely medical care risk developing more severe symptoms and complications. This can result in more treatments and possible hospitalizations, increasing patient costs.
A recent study showed that prolonging the wait time in the ER for a patient with a severe condition by just 10 minutes could increase the cost by an average of 6%. In the case of patients with a moderately severe illness or injury, the price increased on average by 3%.
Increased Risk of Complications and Death
As we mentioned, the longer you wait to receive treatment, the more likely you will develop complications.
And a large-scale study found that delayed treatment was directly associated with a higher risk of death from any cause within 30 days after visiting the emergency room.
The study revealed that for patients who waited between 6-8 hours, their risk of dying increased by 8%. In addition, patients who had to wait 8-12 hours in the ER waiting room were 10% more likely to die within the month.
That is why at Supreme Care ER we never tire of saying that in an emergency, every minute counts. Next, find out about the top time sensitive medical emergencies.
Time-critical emergencies need to be recognized and treated as quickly as possible to reduce the chance of long-term disabilities and even death.
These are some of the most time-sensitive medical emergencies:
Stroke is a leading cause of death in the U.S., with more than 795,000 Americans suffering one every year.
Stroke patients who receive medical care within 3 hours of their first symptoms generally have less disability three months after the incident than patients who received delayed care.
Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke
Please call 911 if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Sudden numbness or unexplained weakness on one side of the body (face, arm, leg)
- Confusion, difficulty speaking, or trouble understanding speech
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Difficulty walking, loss of balance or coordination, dizziness
- Unexplained severe headache
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., with one person suffering a heart attack every 40 seconds.
Every minute after a heart attack, more heart tissue is damaged or dies due to lack of oxygen. Untreated or delayed treatment of heart attack symptoms can lead to severe complications and increase the risk of death.
Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack
- Feeling pain or pressure in the chest area
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweats
- Feeling faint or lightheaded
- Unexplained tiredness
- Feeling pain that may spread to the arms, shoulders, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
The most common causes of traumatic brain injuries are falls, gunshot head wounds, car crashes, and assault.
Some 64,000 TBI-related deaths yearly, but a traumatic brain injury can also result in long-term disability. Therefore, rapid medical treatment is vital to reduce the risk of death and disability.
Signs and Symptoms of TBI
- Headache after hitting head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Trouble speaking
- Feeling tired, drowsy, or sleeping more than usual
- Feeling dizzy or loss of balance
- Blurred vision, ringing in the ears, loss of smell, or having bad taste in the mouth
- Increased sensitivity of light or sound
- Loss of consciousness even for a few seconds or minutes after trauma
- Feeling dazed, disoriented, or confused
- Difficulty concentrating or problems with memory
- Mood swings
- Depression or anxiety
Knowing when to get help for a time-sensitive emergency is vital to saving lives. At Supreme Care ER located at 9530 Jones Rd, Houston, TX 77065, we have the best on site ER doctors, nurses, and ER radiologic techs, and emergency room technologies at your disposal and guaranteed minimal wait times. We are open 24/7 every day of the year and always ready to treat all types of medical emergencies from minor to major.