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Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association

Is there equity in emergency medical care? Waiting times and walk-outs in South Western Sydney hospital emergency departments

Mohammed Mohsin, Adrian Bauman and Sue Ieraci

Australian Health Review 21(3) 133 - 149
Published: 1998


This study explores the association between selected socioeconomic characteristics ofemergency patients with waiting times in emergency departments and walk-outs (thosewho did not wait for treatment) in South Western Sydney Area Health Servicehospital emergency departments. Bivariate and multivariate analyses indicated thatwaiting times to see a doctor and walk-out rates varied by age, sex, country of birth,insurance status, socioeconomic status, severity of patient illness and day of arrival.Patients who were female, from a non-English-speaking background, self-referred,uninsured and those from lower socioeconomic status showed significantly longerwaiting times than others. Patients who left emergency departments without treatmentshowed higher waiting times from arrival to triage than other groups. This appliedacross socioeconomic categories. These findings indicate that prolonged waiting timesfor triage, which occur at the busiest periods, may be one of the main indicators forpatients leaving emergency departments without treatment. The study alsodemonstrates variability in waiting times, which could possibly be partly addressedby more standardised triage policies, but may be influenced by other non-clinicalfactors, which require further investigation.

© AHHA 1998

Committee on Publication Ethics

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