Preventable deaths, injuries, and illnesses have been found to be caused by emergency room delays. ER waiting times have increased from 22 minutes in 1997 to 30 minutes in 2004. Heart attack patients are exposed to more serious dangers as their wait time has doubled on average, but the risks caused by delay are great. In a study in the journal Health Affairs, 1/4 of heart attack patients had to wait 50 minutes or more before getting treatment.
The lack of universal health insurance in America, as well as the closure of emergency rooms around the country have contributed to the overflowing waiting rooms where patients may wait dangerous amounts of time. People without healthcare insurance are often forced to visit emergency rooms for free care, regardless of urgency.
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