When Waiting Kills – Long Waits In ED Result In Higher Risks Of Death.

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The longer a patient waits in Emergency Department the higher the risk of death, according to a massive Canadian research project.

The British Medical Journal says researchers gathered data from everyone who visited any ED in Ontario over a five-year period. This gave them data on a staggering 22 million visits.

Fourteen million of these patients were seen and then sent home. These patients were followed up to see what happened to them – especially if they had died.

Internal hospital data also gave the average waiting time in the ED when patients arrived. This allowed researchers to measure the odds of death for patients discharged when the average wait in ED was less than four hours, compared to patients discharged when the wait was less than one hour.

Patients sent home when the average wait in the ED was more than six hours, were twice as likely to die as those sent home after a wait of less than one hour. The odds ratio was similar for patients measured as high or low urgency at triage.

The clear trend in the data showed each step up in waiting time resulted in a higher risk of death.

The study has been praised as an excellent example of effectiveness of good quality computerised health records and the knowledge they can yield.

These results are not surprising to us. How about you?

Image credit: Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_department

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