California emergency room wait now four hours and 34 minutes
July 27, 2010
Visiting a California hospital emergency room last year meant waiting an average of four hours and 34 minutes–two minutes longer than in 2008 and 27 minutes longer than the national average. [California Watch]
California ranks 40th in the U.S. for wait times, trailing Iowa, the state with the shortest waits, by 99 minutes.
The Golden State has 7.1 emergency departments per 1 million people, compared to an average of 19.9 among other states, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians’ 2009 National Report Card on the State of Emergency Medicine. More than 10 million people visited California emergency departments in 2007.
According to the Public Policy Institute of California, Hispanics and Asians are less likely to use emergency care than whites. The three counties with the highest rate of emergency room visits are all found in the Central Valley.
Experts say the obvious: The key to cutting down emergency room visits is to improve access to primary care providers and urgent care centers.
Meanwhile, two Southern California hospitals – Loma Linda University Medical Center and San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland – are trying to cut down on waits by allowing patients with noncritical conditions to schedule emergency room visits online.
Both hospitals guarantee patients will see a health professional within 15 minutes of their appointment for a fee of $24.99.