Prolonged wait times in emergency departments (ED) are associated with quality of care for medical conditions, but little is known about factors associated with wait time for non-traumatic dental condition (NTDC) visits to EDs. We examined trends in wait time and factors associated with wait time for NTDC visits to emergency department in the United States.
We analyzed data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care survey for 1997 to 2007, with 2001-2002 excluded due to lack of waiting time information. We used multivariable proportional odds regression with cutoffs at 15 min, 1, and 2 hours to determine the odds of a longer wait time for NTDC visits.
The mean wait time for NTDC and non-NTDC visits was 49 minutes. NTDC mean wait time increased 6% annually and from 38 minutes in 1997 to 59 minutes in 2007. Approximately, 47% of NTDC and 30% of non-NTDC visits were triaged to be seen after an hour. Medicare enrollees (56 mins), Hispanics (62 mins), and the triage group scheduled for over 1 hour (59 mins) had the longest mean wait time for NTDC visits. Compared to whites, Hispanic and Blacks had significantly higher odds of longer wait time for NTDC visits (adjusted OR=1.4 and 1.6, respectively). Triaged urgency was the strongest predictor of actual wait time, with OR=2.6 and 4.5 for those triaged to 15-60 min and over 1 hour, respectively.
Nationally wait times in EDs for NTDC visits increased substantially over time. Hispanics and Blacks were more likely to wait longer for care in EDs for NTDC visits.
Keywords: Access, Health services research, Providers, Quality and Utilization/demand
See more of: Behavioral, Epidemiologic, and Health Services Research