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Utah hospital bucking national trend

Utah hospital bucking national trend

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People around the country are waiting longer in emergency rooms to see doctors, but at least one Utah hospital is bucking the trend.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study says the average wait for a patient in the ER is 56 minutes. That's nearly 20 minutes longer than it was a year ago.

Nationally, experts say it's about supply and demand. The number of visits to emergency rooms continues to grow, while the numbers of emergency rooms in hospitals declines.

As late as a year ago, and even with a relatively new and bigger ER, the wait in the lobby at the University of Utah Hospital, likewise, was as much as an hour.

But since that time, the U says it's made changes like placing a physician up front and reducing waits to an average of 13 minutes. "They're seen immediately by a provider who can start some things going, rather than trying to be triaged into ‘sick' versus ‘not sick,'" said Dr. Eric Barton.

Barton says the goal is to reduce the time to 10 minutes. It's a lofty aim as the population ages and more people turn to ERs as their place of primary care.


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Marc Giauque


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