What are we measuring?
This measure tracks the average time it takes for a person to receive a diagnostic evaluation by a qualified medical professional after arriving at a hospital emergency department. The data come from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and are based on a sampling of emergency department patients from U.S. hospitals. The Fulton County hospital included are Emory Midtown, Grady Memorial, Northside, Piedmont, Saint Joseph's, Atlanta Medical Center and North Fulton Hospital. The average wait times for Fulton County and its national benchmark counties presented here are actually averages of the median wait times of hospitals in each county.
Why are we measuring it?
Emergency room crowding and the resulting increase in wait times have been associated with an increased risk of in-hospital mortality, longer times to treatment for serious conditions, and a higher probability of leaving against medical advice or without being seen. Wait times can disproportionately affect poorer members of society and the uninsured because they are more likely to use hospital emergency rooms as their primary source of care.
How are we doing?
As of 2016, Fulton County had the fourth longest wait times among the national benchmark counties, but had improved from the second longest in 2014. In fact, Fulton's average wait time had been cut in more than half between 2013 and 2016, due almost exclusively by dramatically reduced wait times at Grady Memorial Hospital, which fell from 160 minutes in September of 2013 to about 60 minutes in March of 2016.