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Emergency Departments: Wait Time and Ambulance Diversions

Find detailed wait time in emergency departments, and ambulance diversions. NCHS Data Brief #102 on Wait Times in Emergency Departments (ED) analyzes ER ambulance diversions and average waiting time in 2009. Between 2003 and 2009, average wait time to see a provider increased 25%, from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes. Even for patients classified as needing immediate care (just 2% of patient visits), the wait averaged nearly 29 minutes. If the ER was on ambulance diversion, the wait was longer, especially for the less critical patients. The report data are more than 10 years old, published August 2012. A newer summary of the 2019 Emergency Department tables from the annual National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, shows the average wait time to see a physician was 37.4 minutes, nearly a 21 minute improvement over ten years. (The median wait time to see an ER provider in 2019 was 14.0 minutes.)

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