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Maryland has longest hospital wait times of any state, study finds

Emergency Room
Posted at 6:56 PM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 09:43:25-05

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Maryland and D.C. have the longest hospital wait times in the country.

IT service automation company SysAid studied the latest data released from 2020 to 2021 from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to see how states stack up when it comes to hospital waiting times.

Maryland had the longest for any state at 228 minutes, only behind D.C. and Puerto Rico.

“It’s concerning and frankly, it’s been going on for a while,” said Bob Atlas, Maryland Hospital Association President.

Atlas said the problem has been getting worse over the years.

“Largely around the behavior health crisis that we are having, both psychiatric and substance abuse disorders. We also have a lot of adolescences in need. We have very limited resources for behavioral care for youth and adolescence,” said Atlas.

He believes Maryland doesn’t have enough primary care and behavior health services so people who couldn’t be cared for in those settings end up at the emergency room. Hospitals are working with social workers and other avenues to not just admit those patients, but find ways to send them home.

“It’s very often the case that people need some kind of personal care or social support, not necessarily health care, to be able to go home,” said Atlas.

The delays are not only frustrating to patients, but to frontline workers already strained from the pandemic. The Maryland Emergency Nurses Association said it has led to an increase in workplace violence against nurses.

“Almost every day we’re being cussed out and yelled at. Some people are being physically assaulted. And we’re losing our compassion,” said Lena Sutch, the Maryland Emergency Nurses Association president.

Because Atlas said a lot of people are going to the ER for non-life-threatening reasons, people should try to utilize primary or urgent care, or telehealth, when able.