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Its all about money. And to attract patients, hospitals across Florida, as well as the United States have begun to advertise emergency room wait times as a way to market their services. Some are using billboards, websites, RSS and Twitter.

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The problem is that patients with serious, life threatening medical conditions, like heart attacks or strokes, might choose a hospital further away that advertises a shorter wait time over a closer ER. Another misleading fact, is that the advertised wait times, are to see a “health care provider” not necessarily a doctor.

According to The American College of Emergency Physicians, the oldest and largest national medical specialty organization of emergency room doctors patients with life threatening conditions are always supposed to be seen immediately.

As a Miami lawyer who sues emergency rooms and their doctors I suggest that hospitals advertise the following information:

  • Current length of time a patient would wait to be see a doctor.
  • The average wait time for patients to see a doctor.
  • The percentage capacity the ER is at in terms of available beds or rooms.
  • The average time it takes a patient to go from triage to discharge.

I think emergency rooms have a lot to learn from McDonald’s in terms of efficiency, standardization and customer service. All ERs should be clean, bright places, where people are seen quickly and by well trained and equipped staff. And no patient, regardless of their condition should have to wait hours and hours to be seen by a doctor, especially those with life threatening problems.