8 on Your Side: Advertised Emergency Room Wait Times - 8 News NOW

8 on Your Side: Advertised Emergency Room Wait Times

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LAS VEGAS - Few people want to go to the emergency room. When tragedy strikes, however, the ER is often the best option.

Registered nurse Marcia Talamantes knew that when, one day, her husband suffered severe abdominal pain.

"We kind of were sitting here seeing if it would get better, and it wasn't," she said.

Talamantes knew they had to get to an emergency room, so she checked online to see which hospital advertised the shortest wait time.

"We headed over to Sunrise, because it advertised a seventeen minute average wait," she said.

In an effort to shorten their wait time, they used iTriage, an app that allows users to register at an area hospital before they arrive.

Once they arrived, however, they waited 40 minutes to check in. When they told a nurse they pre-registered, Talamantes said the nurse made a comment that added insult to injury.

"She said, ‘We don't pay any attention to that,'" Talamantes said.

Marcia and her husband waited five and a half hours before getting treatment. For her, those billboards amounted to false advertising.

8 on Your Side asked Sunrise Hospital Director of Emergency Services Kimberley Berry about the discrepancy between the billboard's advertised wait time and the actual wait time Talamantes and her husband experienced.

"That is our average ER wait time to see a provider," Berry explained.

Since the advertised wait time is an average, patients could wait a longer or shorter amount of time, depending on the circumstances. That time doesn't measure when a patient will get treatment in a bed, but when he or she has contact with a medical professional in the waiting room after triage.

Getting into a bed could take much longer. As for the nurse's comment that pre-registration is ignored, Berry said inexperience may have been a factor.

"When you have new people being trained in triage, they are not all aware of every nuance," she said.

Berry says triage is one of the most difficult areas of the emergency room. That nurse may have just had a tough night.

"If you get flustered, you are going to pop off and say the wrong thing," she said.

Because of this incident, Sunrise Hospital is making some changes. The Emergency Room department is receiving additional training on how to handle pre-registration patients.

While Talamantes says she's optimistic about the changes, she says she still believes billboard wait times mean very little.

"I think those things are good, but I think there should be more truth in advertising," she said. "It's pretty useless I think."

Talamantes says her husband suffered for hours before getting treatment in the ER. He was eventually admitted for several days and has since recovered. The family featured in this story is related to an 8 News NOW employee.

If you have a problem you want the 8 on Your Side team to investigate, call the hotline at 702-650-1907.

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