ER wait times targeted

Ontario is aiming to be the first province in Canada to cut down on the amount of time patients spend in the emergency room by setting targets for hospitals across the province.

Ontario is aiming to be the first province in Canada to cut down on the amount of time patients spend in the emergency room by setting targets for hospitals across the province.

Health Minister David Caplan Thursday unveiled the plan, which sets a cap of eight hours for patients with complex conditions and four hours for those with minor problems.

The clock starts when a patient registers or sees a triage nurse who gauges the urgency for treatment, and stops after they’re discharged or admitted to a bed in another department.

Nine out of 10 patients with serious conditions that require more time to diagnose and treat spend a maximum of 13.5 hours in Ontario emergency rooms, according to the latest provincial figures, which date back to October.

Most patients with minor problems spend about 4.6 hours in the ER, the statistics showed.

The province also unveiled a website that posts wait times in ERs across the province, figures that will “open a lot of eyes,” Caplan said.

All Toronto hospitals that reported their wait times exceeded the provincial target, with one branch of the Humber River Regional Hospital clocking in at 22.8 hours for serious cases.

 
 
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