What You Should Know About ER Wait Times

When you are worried about your health and waiting for results, time can feel like it is stretching on forever. No one likes having to wait for any kind of service, and sitting in an emergency room waiting area can be very stressful for you and your family.

Understanding how the emergency room works could prepare you for an upcoming visit and ease some of your frustrations.

Are You Next?

The emergency room does not see people in the order they arrive. At first glance this may seem unfair, but a system is in place to protect your health. Those with the most pressing health problems are seen first.

Understanding the Categories

Your first stop in the emergency room is triage. During this stage, a healthcare professional will classify you into one of three groups:

1. Life threatening

2. Urgent

3. Less urgent

Those with a life-threatening situation will typically skip the wait. Urgent cases get placed at the top of the list. Those who are less urgent will see a doctor or nurse when one is available.

During the Wait

Stay alert to any changes in your condition while you are waiting. What appeared less urgent during triage may progress while you are listening for your name to be called. If you notice a new symptom, or a current symptom begins to worsen dramatically, speak up immediately.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average ER wait time in the United States is one hour. However, at St. Petersburg General Hospital, we consistently beat that average. We have a system in place that ensures you receive treatment quickly and efficiently.

To see our current ER wait times, you can visit our website, or you can text “ER” to 23000. We know that when you’re having a medical emergency, every moment counts.

How Stuff Works
Wall Street Journal

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