How much does the long wait in the emergency room increase the risk of death?

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Patients who wait more than five hours in the emergency department before being admitted to the hospital, shows a new study conducted in Britain. An extra death was estimated for every 82 patients who delayed six to eight hours in the emergency room before admission.

The researchers, led by Dr Chris Moulton of the Royal Hospital of Bolton, who published in the British Journal of Emergency Medicine, analyzed data on 26.74 million patient visits (mean age 55 years) in British hospital emergency rooms, of which 5.25 million were eventually admitted for treatment.

Most patients went to the hospital between 12.00-18: 00, with the largest percentage of them in the first quarter of the year. The average emergency waiting time was almost five hours, with 38% (almost four in ten) waiting more than four hours.

Deaths in the month following hospitalization were found to be 8% higher among those who waited six to eight hours and 10% more for those who waited eight to 12 hours, compared with those who waited less than six hours.

The risk of nosocomial infection

The long wait in the emergency room can delay the delivery of vital treatments, increasing the duration of subsequent hospitalization, especially in the elderly, while at the same time increasing the patient’s risk of nosocomial infection, according to the Athenian-Macedonian News Agency.

Delayed admission also often results in the patient being moved from the emergency room to a hospital ward overnight when staff are less, according to the researchers, who found a clear correlation between waiting time and chance of a patient dying: the higher the first, the greater the second.

Its National Health System Of Britain has been aiming since 2004 for emergency waiting not to exceed four hours. According to Dr. Derek Predis of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, “as many of us have always known, this goal is vital to patient safety.” Other countries, such as Australia and Canada, have adopted similar targets for their hospitals. However, it is a common phenomenon internationally that this goal is not met due to lack of beds and medical staff, as well as increased demand from patients.

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