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1 in 10 ER patients face lengthy waits for beds, especially seniors: report

A new reports says one in 10 emergency department patients who need hospital admission have to wait more than 28 hours on average before being transferred to a bed.

The report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, or CIHI, also found that one-quarter of seniors who visit an ED need admission, and one in 10 wait more than 31 hours for a bed.

However, the 2013-2014 report also shows that nine out of 10 patients have their emergency department visit completed in 7.5 hours or less.

Waits for admission vary by severity: patients who need an operating room or critical care bed have waits almost three times shorter than those who need a bed in another ward.

The report says chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis are more prevalent among older Canadians and often require hospitalization.

The authors found chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure and pneumonia are the leading conditions for which people are admitted to hospital.

“We analyzed more than 10 million ED visits,” said Greg Webster, director of acute and ambulatory care information services at CIHI. “That represents approximately 60 per cent of the ED visits in Canada, which underlines how busy this part of the health system is.

“Our findings highlight the persistently long ED visit times for admitted patients and how this affects seniors in particular,” Webster added.