Longer wait times at emergency departments are associated with higher short term mortality and hospital admissions, according to a study in BMJ.
For the study, researchers examined data from high volume emergency departments in Ontario from 2003 to 2007.
- Emerging and urgent patients who were in the ED for six hours or more had a higher risk of mortality and admission within seven days when compared with those who spent less than one hour in the ED.
- Non-urgent patients who were in the ED for at least six hours also had a higher risk of death or admission within seven days than those waiting for less than one hour.
- The risk of death increased incrementally with each additional hour of mean waiting time per shift.
- Risk of death was significantly lower for patients who left without being seen compared with those who were seen and discharged.