Emergency Room Wait Time Getting Longer

Mary Barlow of Baptist St. Anthony's Hospital
Mary Barlow of Baptist St. Anthony's Hospital

Waiting in an emergency room is taking longer than it did in the 1990's. That, according to research recently published in the journal "Health Affairs."

The number of patients going to the emergency room went up from 93 million in 1994 to 110 million in 2004.

One local hospital says it is seeing the same trend and there are a couple of reasons for it.

Mary Barlow at Baptist St. Anthony's hospital says people come into the waiting room for minor injuries like broken fingers and ear aches.  Barlow says that is why some will sit in a waiting room longer than others.

Barlow says, "This is for people in dyer need of medical attention. So if you have an ear ache, you're going to wait."

BSA, like most other emergency rooms, triages their patients. Barlow says, "We take patients with critical symptoms and treat them first."

People often also think the emergency room is less expensive, or even free of charge but that is not the case. Barlow says it is a terribly expensive way of getting healthcare.

That is why BSA encourages patients with minor ailments to seek care at a family doctor's office or an urgent care center....where they will be treated quickly and will not have to pay as much.