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Medical News & Perspectives
July 22 2009

Emergency Physicians Hope to Be Heard in Debate Over Health System Reform

JAMA. 2009;302(4):371-373. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1020

A new government report that once again highlights the overcrowding typically experienced in US emergency departments may help draw the attention of Congress and the President as they debate ways to reform health care delivery.

The report, by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), notes that overcrowding continues to be an issue that results in delays to patients who need urgent care (http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09347.pdf). In 2006 (the most recent year studied), the average wait for a patient with a dire emergency to see a physician exceeded recommended time frames. Patients classified as requiring immediate care (to be seen in less than 1 minute) waited an average of 28 minutes while those classified as emergent (to be seen within 1-14 minutes) waited an average of 37 minutes.

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