This Video Explains Why You’re Waiting So Long In The Emergency Room

You would think an emergency room is a place to get medical care quickly, but plenty of us know the feeling of waiting for hours even if the place doesn’t seem busy. This video helps to explain why.

Part of the reason is triage: the concept of sorting people according to how time-sensitive their problem is. Even if you have a serious illness or injury, if you’re unlikely to get worse in the next few hours, you won’t be at the top of the list. “First come, first served” doesn’t apply here — the person who walks in an hour after you might see the doctor before you do.

Another part of the reason is simply that the emergency department is connected to the rest of the hospital. If there’s a wait for a certain room, machine, or specialist, that can affect people throughout the hospital — including in the emergency department. Watch the whole video for more on how emergency departments work, including how to get the most out of your discharge instructions when they finally let you go home.

Why Am I Waiting in the Emergency Department? [Doc Mike Evans]


  • I had to take my under 3 year old to the ER cause she bit a chunk out of a glass cup, and we couldnt find all the pieces.

    Waited 4 hours, the dr came to the waiting room, had a quick look in her mouth, a quick consult out the back and told us to go home and come back if we noticed any bleeding or if she started acting out of sorts.

    I went in with a bad reaction to Tramadol, the admitting nurse claimed i had gastro (but symptoms started <1 hour after having a tablet) i was waiting hours all i got was a anti-nausea tablet till i was admitted and the doctor that saw me agreed with me, put me on a drip and then i was sent home, but in the mean time i had no idea how bad the reaction could get (beyond the copious vomiting).

    I’m sure its a difficult job but sometimes i think their prioritisation is out of whack (4 hours of waiting to see a toddler and only to be told to go home was atrocious) , and they could do better with communication (at least at Maroondah Hospital) instead of keeping people in the dark.

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