New App Tracks Emergency Room Waits - 8 News NOW

New App Tracks Emergency Room Waits

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LAS VEGAS -- Going to the nearest hospital may not be the fastest way to see a doctor, even in an emergency.

Government data shows Nevada ranks a little better than the national average, when it comes to wait time in the emergency room. Many hospitals in southern Nevada are lagging far behind hospitals in the northern part of the state.

The independent and nonprofit investigative resource Pro Publica recently launched an application on its website to help people avoid getting stuck in the waiting room when they need help right away.

App developers caution the best thing to do if you are in a health emergency is to call an ambulance, but looking at the rankings may save you time, if you have the luxury of choosing where you want to go.

Jorge Latorre says after he broke his hand he was stuck in the emergency room at Desert Springs Hospital for more than 45 minutes before seeing a doctor.

"I was a little surprised because there wasn't that many people there. I was the only one in the room at the time and it still took some time," Latorre said.

Pro Publica's ER-wait watcher app ranks hospitals based on data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Three of the top four longest waits in this state are in southern Nevada. The average wait at Centennial Hills Hospital is close to an hour.

University Medical Center and Desert Springs Hospital both average a little more than 50 minutes.

Pro Publica says the app can be a useful tool for people who want to avoid long waits and it also holds hospitals accountable.

"One of there reasons for making this data public is to raise awareness and give hospitals incentive to fix these long wait times," app developer for Pro Publica Lena Groger said.

Some southern Nevada hospitals did beat the clock. Pro Publica lists Sunrise and Southern Hills Hospitals as having wait times under 15 minutes.

"I can't speak for what the other facilities do, but we're going to take the quality and care that needs to be provided for our patients put that first, evaluate that continually, see what we can do to improve that experience for them," Brendan Bussmann with Sunrise Health System said.

Jorge Latorre says he hopes hospitals do make some changes.

"I would rather it be treated right away. The first question being what do you need? How do you feel? Rather than asking your name and taking information down," Latorre said.

He also hopes he never needs to go back to the emergency room in the first place.

8 News NOW contacted the hospitals mentioned to find out why their wait times are longer than average. They did not respond to our request.

There are other factors to consider when choosing a hospital other than ER wait times.

The app can also sort emergency rooms based on how long the total experience can take or how quickly patients are prescribed medication they need.

Go to projects/propublica.org, for more information.

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