Things You Should Know About ER Wait Times

The emergency room is a place where nobody wants to go by their will or desire. This is a place where a person dealing with a chronic emergency goes. Chronic emergencies are of different times. They are predictable fatal emergencies, predictable non-fatal emergencies, unpredictable fatal emergencies, and unpredictable non-fatal emergencies. No matter what type of emergency it is, it is always a massive deal for whoever has it. Each patient wants that he should be treated as early as possible and should be given proper care. However, this is not possible because the emergency room is fully occupied all the time, and the patient needs to wait for his turn.

Waiting Times For The Patient

Every patient has to wait to get treated no matter how injured he is—this is because the emergency room’s staff has to keep every Patient’s record. The emergency room is a health care center, and it has to keep a record of each and every patient for the official processes. They have their management rules made so that every patient leaves the emergency room being fully satisfied.

Basic Time Line

When it comes to the time spent in the emergency room, every patient has to go through a similar process that includes triage, treatment, and discharge. Now differences in wait times depend on the duration of these three processes.


It is the process in which the doctor checks the severity of the emergency of the Patient. He notes that what type of emergency a patient is dealing with. If a patient is dealing with a life-threatening health emergency, he will treat him first. To make this step even more transparent, suppose that two patients arrived simultaneously via the hospital’s ambulance. Both have a severe case of emergency. One Patient came with a broken leg. The other Patient is severely injured and is bleeding. Now analyzing the situation, the doctor would send the second Patient for the treatment first because if he did not get the treatment on time, he might lose his life. The second Patient is also in much pain, but he can wait a bit more.


It is the process in which a doctor examines the health condition of the Patient. Then he tries to give him medication as per the requirement of his condition. Moreover, in case of some severe emergency, he might recommend the Patient for any operation or tests that he needs to get done to become stable. Some patients get their complete treatment within few hours, and some patients have to spend some days in the emergency room until they get stable. It all depends on their emergency and adds in their Emergency room’s wait time.


This is the last step. In this process, the Patient gets his treatment, and he is stable enough to go to his home. Now he has to pay the bills and fill out some forms. As soon as he completes this process, he is free to go. This ends his emergency room’s wait time.

Factors On Which Emergency Room’s Time Depends

The emergency room’s time depends on the following factors

  • The severity of the Patient,s emergency
  • The time required for his treatment
  • The Patient needs to get admitted or not
  • The crowdedness of the emergency room
  • The availability of beds or separate rooms according to the condition of Patient

Methods To Calculate Emergency Room’s Wait Times

There are different types of patients, and their treatments involve different procedures. So there are different methods applied in different situations in order to calculate Emergency Room’s waiting timings.

  1. 90 Percentile

This is the standard way of calculating the Emergency Room’s wait time by almost all the hospitals. This method calculates how much time is spent on 90% of the patients when they are admitted, treated, and discharged. The 10% indicates that one out of 10npatients spends a bit more time in an emergency room than others. He may have a fatal emergency.

  1. Median

This is the method by which the time of 50 % of patients is considered. That how much time did they spend in the Emergency room getting admitted, treated, and discharged.

  1. Average

This method involves adding total hours spent by each Patient and dividing it by the number of patients who visited the emergency room in a day.

Terms Related To Emergency Room’s Wait Times:

There are many terms that the doctors and staff use to calculate the emergency room’s timings.

  • PIA: it stands for Time To Physician’s Initial Assessment. It is the time duration of the Patient starting from its triage to the point he meets his physician.
  • DISP: it stands for Time In Disposition Decision. It s the time duration that starts from the triage of the Patient till the time when the doctor decides that either the Patient should be admitted to the hospital or not.
  • ADM: it stands for time to an inpatient bed. It is the time starting from the doctor’s disposition to them till the time patient leaves t emergency room for a hospital bed.
  • AOT: it stands for Ambulance Offload time. It is the time duration starting from when the Patient sits in the ambulance until the time the patient is shifted to the care unit or the emergency room.
  • Low Acuity: this term refers to patients who have minor health emergencies. These are the patients who generally spend less time in the emergency room in order to get treated.
  • High Acuity: this term refers to the patients who are dealing with a severe health emergency. These patients require immediate treatment and spend more time in the emergency room in order to get treated.
  • LOS: it stands for the length of stay. It is the time duration that a patient spends in the emergency room.
  • Admitted Patient: this term is used for the patients who go for a hospital bed or a separate room. They are all high acuity patients because they are dealing with complex health emergencies. They spend more time in the emergency room.
  • Non-Admitted Patient: this term is used for Patients who have a minor emergency or do not need to stay in hospital. They finish their visit within a day and then leave the emergency room.


All of these times are calculated in hours.