Yale University LogoThis latest news is a shocking piece of information which was uncovered by experts from the Yale University. This study claims that there seems to be a disturbing lack of consistency among U.S. hospitals in how fast they treat patients in the emergency rooms. Also, some hospitals were noted to be least able to provide timely care to the sickest patients.

For the purpose of the study, the Yale team studied approximately 36,000 visits to about 364 emergency departments in the United States. They were noted to have further analyzed data on how long it took for patients to be treated and the length of their stay before being either admitted or discharged.

The study findings revealed that in a usual ED, nearly one-third of acutely ill patients seemed to have waited longer than recommended at triage to be treated by a doctor. Moreover, approximately one-quarter of patients who need to be admitted appeared to have waited for more than six hours for an inpatient bed.

The findings further revealed extensive variability in these times among the hospitals studied. For instance, patients visiting the slowest EDs were believed to have waited more than twice as long to be treated as compared to those visiting the fastest EDs, and spent more than two extra hours waiting for an inpatient bed.

Apparently, this variability persists in spite of accounting for different patient demographic mixes at the hospitals. It was observed that some factors contributing to these differences are outside a hospital’s control such as the volume of patients.

However, study lead author Leora Horwitz, M.D., Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at Yale School of Medicine, claimed that some things could perhaps be changed.

“Hospitals can improve triage, registration, work assignments, lab testing and staffing procedures,” says Horwitz.

“The fact that the differences we found among hospitals are so dramatic suggests that intrinsic hospital practices and procedures have a significant impact on patients’ experiences. We urgently need to identify the practices that can best facilitate prompt attention, treatment and admission, and ensure that they are broadly applied across all emergency departments,” elucidates Horwitz.

Horwitz was of the opinion that maybe most important, is what’s called ‘output’ which refers to the availability of inpatient beds into which a hospital seems to move admitted patients. It was believed that emergency department (ED) crowding has become so serious that the Institute of Medicine terms it a ‘national epidemic.’

The findings of the study have been published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine.