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The Cost of Waiting in Emergency Departments

Wait times in U.S. emergency departments are increasing. A new study published in Economic Inquiry indicates that prolonging the wait time in the emergency department for a patient who arrives with a serious condition by 10 minutes will increase the hospital’s cost to care for the patient by an average of 6%, and it will increase the cost to care for moderately severe cases by an average of 3%. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019 12:01 am EST
"Most people appreciate that long waiting times hurt patients, but our results show they also contribute to a growing economic concern: rising healthcare costs. One problem is feeding another"

Wait times in U.S. emergency departments are increasing. A new study published in Economic Inquiry indicates that prolonging the wait time in the emergency department for a patient who arrives with a serious condition by 10 minutes will increase the hospital’s cost to care for the patient by an average of 6%, and it will increase the cost to care for moderately severe cases by an average of 3%. There were no increased costs associated with waiting among relatively healthier patients.

The findings suggest that longer emergency department wait times exacerbate costs.

"Most people appreciate that long waiting times hurt patients, but our results show they also contribute to a growing economic concern: rising healthcare costs. One problem is feeding another,” said co-author Lindsey Woodworth, PhD, MA, of the University of South Carolina.

Additional Information

Link to Study: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ecin.12849

About Journal 

Published since 1962, (formerly Western Economic Journal), EI is widely regarded as one of the top scholarly journals in its field. Twenty-two Nobel laureates are among EI's long list of prestigious authors.

Besides containing research on all economics topic areas, a principal objective is to make each article understandable to economists who are not necessarily specialists in the article's topic area.

About Wiley

Wiley drives the world forward with research and education. Through publishing, platforms and services, we help students, researchers, universities, and corporations to achieve their goals in an ever-changing world. For more than 200 years, we have delivered consistent performance to all of our stakeholders. The Company's website can be accessed at www.wiley.com.

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Penny Smith +44 (0) 1243 770448 (UK)
newsroom@wiley.com

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