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Headed To The ER? Check The Wait Time First

http://66.225.205.104/JR20100816.mp3

The next time you head to the emergency room with a broken bone or a mysterious rash, you might want to first check a new website from Carolinas HealthCare Systems. WFAE's Julie Rose reports it could save you a lot of time. If you haven't lived the nightmare yourself, you've heard the stories: someone goes to the ER and waits for hours - maybe even all night - just to see a doctor. Well, what if you could check the wait time at the ER before you went? Even better, what if you knew the wait time at one hospital was a lot shorter than another? "I think emergency departments are realizing you have a choice," says Brad Watling, an ER doctor at CMC-Mercy hospital in Charlotte. A new website lists the actual wait times at eleven of Carolinas Healthcare Systems' hospitals. The information at http://www.cmcwaittimes.org/ is updated every 15 minutes and is also available via cell phone. Patients will soon notice that certain hospitals such as CMC-Main frequently have longer wait times, partly because they are the primary destination for 911 calls and severe trauma cases. But Watling says patients with less-serious injuries are the target of the new website. "We want to provide good customer satisfaction - it's not just come in and we get to do whatever we want with you," says Watling. "The olden days of listen to your physician no matter what he tells ya and no matter how long it takes and what it costs - I think those days are gone." The new website does come with a caveat, though: ER wait times can change quickly. From the time you check the website to the time you arrive at the hospital, there's no telling how many patients with severe injuries may have gotten there first.