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Health

Coming Soon To ERs: Wait Times via Tweet

DiscoblogBy Brett IsraelDecember 23, 2009 3:21 AM

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What if waiting for treatment in the emergency room was like waiting for your toaster to ding, and you knew exactly how long you were going to wait? Many healthcare providers are hopeful that by banding together to coordinate information about how congested their waiting rooms are they can help people make the best decision about where to seek medical attention, according to the Los Angeles Times:

In part to ease the minds of those seeking emergency care -- or at least disclose how bad the wait will be -- a growing number of suburban emergency rooms around the country are advertising wait times. Some post the times on their websites. Others tweet, send text messages or display the times on huge highway billboards. A few are testing a service by a start-up company, InQuickER, that allows patients to register online, pay a small fee and hold their place in line while they wait at home.

But what seems like a good bit of pubic service has some doctors concerned that the posted wait times will be misleading. For example, a patient suffering ominous chest pains might be persuaded to drive to a hospital further away for a shorter wait even though he may have been bumped to the front of a longer line closer to home. So while it may be useful for someone with a minor condition to seek out a shorter wait time, doctors in the article say that people with serious injuries should get to the closest help possible -- and fast. Related Content: Discoblog: The Creepy World Of Old-School Medicine Discoblog: New Especially Bad Heroin Can Give You an Overdose—or Anthrax Discoblog: So Long, Colostomy Bag: British Man Gets Remote-Controlled Sphincter

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