How Long is an ER Wait at Scripps or Tri-City? Feds Spill the Beans

Medicare database shows how hospitals across San Diego County—and nation—compare for care.

If you go to the emergency room at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas with a broken bone, how long will it take before you get pain medicine? 

The federal government says 52 minutes on average. That's less than the state average at 69 minutes and the national average at 62 minutes.

That's also less than Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside at 122 minutes.

Key measures of ER efficiency have been posted from hospitals taking part across the country, according to a report by HealthLeaders Media senior quality editor Cheryl Clark.

“With precious little fanfare, Uncle Sam last month rolled out a big, fat database with seven measures comparing a service that many people—healthcare providers and patients alike—consider the most critical any hospital can provide,” Clark wrote.

Data collected in 2011 and early 2012 also tracked how long it took for an ER patient to be seen by a healthcare professional and how long the wait was to get a bed if they needed admission. Other data showed how long patients spent in the ER before being sent home and whether they received a brain scan if they might have suffered a stroke.

Clark interviewed Dr. Jesse Pines, an emergency room doctor and researcher who directs the center for healthcare quality at George Washington University.

“The theory is that when hospitals report this information, it makes them focus on it, and improve throughout their [Emergency Department],” Pines was quoted as saying.

“But it’s very hard to do. Certain performance measures are easier to fix—like simple process measures like giving patients an aspirin—than improving ED throughput, which involves development of interdisciplinary teams.”

Pines told Clark the public focus good pushes hospital administrators to focus on the emergency room as well as other metrics.

The database said Scripps Memorial saw 20,602 patients in 2011, with 1 percent leaving the ER before being seen. Tri-City saw 35,475 patients, with 5 percent leaving the ER before being seen.

Compare other hospitals in the area by visiting the Hospital Compare website. Then type in your ZIP code, city or local hospital. When a list of hospitals is displayed, put a checkmark next to two or three hospitals. Scroll down to a yellow button labeled Compare Now, and click to display more details. Look for a tab called Timely and Effective Care and click that.

Were you surprised by any of the stats displayed?  Tell us in the comments.

JRUSSELL March 15, 2013 at 10:53 PM
We live closer to Tri-City than Scripps Encinitas, but always choose to go to Scripps Encinitas for ER visits, it is cleaner, quieter and I would say around 50 minutes to be seen and give some form of treatment. They triage very quickly at Scripps. Wish Scripps would buy Tr-City and bring it up to Scripps standards.


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