Academic journal article Journal of Management Information and Decision Sciences

The Effect of Emergency Waiting Time on Patient Satisfaction

Academic journal article Journal of Management Information and Decision Sciences

The Effect of Emergency Waiting Time on Patient Satisfaction

Article excerpt


Healthcare issues have been a problem for many Americans for years. A number of presidents have tried to reform the Healthcare system. Today more people than ever are financially and medically are at risk because they might not be able to effort health insurance and to be treated at the earlier stage of their sickness (Glied, 2010). Perhaps, this is one of the many reasons that on March 23, 2010, president Obama signed the Affordable Care Act which allows for a complete health insurance reforms (The White House, 2010). The promise of this reform is that the poor and those who cannot afford medical expenses can get proper health care. However, these law changes do not affect the problem that Hospital emergency departments as they are faced today.

Without a doubt, when looking at Healthcare reform, we cannot overlook the problem of overcrowding and lengthy waiting times in most emergency rooms (Horwitz, 2009). In 2008, a study was conducted by Ontario researchers where they stated, long waiting time not only affects patient satisfaction, and they increase the risk of death and hospital readmission for patients who have been discharged from the emergency department (Laupacis, 2011). According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, emergency room visits will continue to rise, regardless of the Healthcare ruling (Cheung-Larivee, 2012). Many Americans today are living without healthcare insurance, so they are using the emergency room doctors as their primary physician (The White House, 2010).

Statement of the Problem

In 2007, a nationwide Emergency Room Pulse Report was done to examine more than 1.5 million patients treated at 1656 emergency rooms. The experiment findings concluded that:

* The average waiting time in emergency rooms was 4 hours, 5 minutes, which has increased by 5 minutes from the previous year.

* Unpredictability, the state by state average waiting times were between 2 hours to 6 hours.

* Another important point was that geographic location showed a distinguishing difference in overall satisfaction. In the top 10 patient satisfaction report, the highest levels were from the emergency room in Milwaukee, WI, with New Orleans, LA coming in 5th.

* The study showed that a shift in waiting times was the main overall issue when dealing with patient satisfaction. It was revealed that the Emergency Department could alleviate patient satisfaction even when waiting times were high, by updating patient with information while they were waiting (Emergency Department Resources, 2008).

These facts and observation support the idea that the quality of care and waiting times patients are receiving, should be taken into consideration when looking at patient satisfaction. Indeed, long waiting times have increased the risk of mortalities. Today we must consider the idea that some people may not mind waiting for care if the quality of care is satisfactory.

Many hospitals measure waiting times as the average time from arrival and check-in, to the time when the patient is placed in a room and care is started (Shelton, 2013). Nevertheless, there is not a set rule when it comes to how hospitals actually handle emergency room waiting times. According to a new report from 2010 Emergency Department Pulse Report, from the moment patients walk into a hospital emergency room until the time they are discharged from the emergency department, the average time spent 4 hours and 5 minutes (Emergency Department Resources, 2009). Many researchers have found that waiting times are different depending on the number of patients to be seen, triage procedures, staffing, and availability of beds (Shaikh, 2012). The Press Ganey Association states that to improve the patient experience, health care providers must first be able to see and understand "the complex relationships between satisfaction, clinical, safety and financial measures" (Emergency Department Resources, 2010). …

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