If you go to the emergency room at you won't have to wait long. The same thing is true at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital - at least according to a new federal government database called Hospital Compare that discloses, among other things, the average ER wait times at hospitals.
But the no-wait emergency rooms are in the minority. The average wait time in the emergency room at Sonoma Valley Hospital is seven minutes, 34 and 41 minutes, respectively, at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa and Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa, according to the database.
When it came to the total time spent from when someone arrives in the ER to when they are discharged, Petaluma Valley fell right along the state average of two hours and 25 minutes.
The number was slightly higher at Santa Rosa Memorial, where it tooks patients about three hours to be seen, treated and released. The national average is 173 minutes.
Data for Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Santa Rosa and Healdsburg District Hospital was unavailable for many of the categories measured, including emergency room performance.
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.
“The theory is that when hospitals report this information, it makes them focus on it, and improve throughout their [Emergency Department],” says Dr. Jesse Pines.
“But it’s very hard to do. Certain performance measures are easier to fix—simple process measures like giving patients an aspirin—than improving ED throughout, which involves development of interdisciplinary teams.”
Pines said the public attention pushes hospital administrators to focus on the emergency room as well as other metrics.
To see more emergency room statistics, visit the Hospital Compare website. 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.
Finally, scroll down to a section called Timely Emergency Department Care. A green button allows you to “View More Details.”
What do you think of the performance of the region's hospitals? Tell us in the comments.