The Fraser Health Authority is sharing emergency room wait times online to make hospital visits more predictable.
Over the past fiscal year, the health authority has seen a 7% increase in emergency department visits compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Additionally, emergency room doctors and doctors from the obstetrician and gynecology units at Surrey Memorial Hospital recently penned letters to share how “unsafe” conditions were in the hospital.
Doctors said a lack of resources and staff is resulting in dire consequences for patients in the region.
Fraser Health says its emergency departments manage more than 2,000 people in the region.
However, a physician shortage means it’s common for patients to linger for days without an admitting physician looking after them, ER doctors said in a letter.
“Many patients have suffered, and some have died while waiting,” the letter reads.
Amid the busy and unpredictable emergency department volumes, Fraser Health is now inputting wait times for its hospital emergency departments that update every five minutes.
“We recognize that some patients and their loved ones are experiencing longer-than-usual emergency department wait times which can be frustrating and cause concern for loved ones,” a release from the health authority reads.
Given the busy and unpredictable nature of emergency room volumes, we're pleased to launch information about our average emergency room wait times.
— Fraser Health (@Fraserhealth) May 30, 2023
Fraser Health hopes this information will improve patients’ experiences at the hospital “by reducing uncertainty and anxiety they may feel while waiting for care.”
“This new information about the emergency departments will help patients and families make informed decisions about accessing care. These estimates help demonstrate how long it may take to see a physician and the expected length of stay in the emergency department,” the statement continues.
The health authority adds that wait times vary depending on the emergency department and fluctuate if patient volumes suddenly increase.
While ER wait times are now available online, OGBYNs at Surrey Memorial called out the “egregiously inaccurate” surgical wait times.
They said despite repeatedly demanding accurate wait times, there hasn’t been a change.
“The gynecology service average wait times are 77% longer than benchmark, the highest outlier at SMH,” the letter from doctors reads.
As a result, doctors said people are falling through the cracks.
ER doctors and women’s health providers are calling on elected officials to create meaningful solutions to tackle the issues doctors are facing.
The Doctors of BC also released a statement this May after a concerned physician sent an email advising Lower Mainland doctors to avoid sending patients who need urgent medical attention to Langley Memorial Hospital, which has been “overrun with patients” and near collapse.
“This is not an isolated incident. What is happening at Langley hospital is taking place in emergency departments (EDs) across the province,” Doctors of BC added.