GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Head to the emergency room with a heart attack, stroke or car accident injuries and you'll see a doctor right away. But for broken bones or the flu, emergency room wait times can vary. The national average is actually pretty good: 28 minutes. That's door to doctor.
Medicare compiles information about hospital performance by surveying a small number of patients at each place. The government puts those results on Medicare.gov's Hospital Compare to help you make better informed decisions. And to reward hospitals that do a good job. 2 Wants To Know scoured this site for the average emergency room wait times in our area. What we found – surprised us and it might you too.
Dig into the site and you'll find Alamance Regional has the longest door to doctor waits in the state - an average 105 minutes - a little more than an hour and a half.
Next longest, the flagship of the Cone Health System -- Moses H Cone Memorial in Greensboro -- a 65 minute wait.
A spokesperson sent 2 Wants To Know a statement about both hospitals saying the information in the Medicare study is "based on a relatively small sample of patients". And that the company's internal testing recently showed the "highest levels ever" of patient satisfaction with its emergency rooms.
Clocking in with an hour average wait: Lexington Memorial Hospital. Wake Forest Baptist Health owns Lexington Memorial.
"Average wait time is a little misleading. If you have a heart attack, your wait time is zero. You are seen immediately upon entering the room. If you come in with a stub toe, you might have to wait," James Hoekstra of Wake Forest Baptist Health said.
Patient advocate Nancy Ruffner says in all seriousness an hour wait might not seem like a lot, but:
"Medically it could have a huge impact. A detrimental impact," Ruffner said.
Let's face it - most of us won't drive to another hospital for shorter wait times. So how do you help yourself? The patient advocate says have a list of your prescriptions and medical history ready when you sign in. And take a healthy family member with you. They can be your voice. That person should check in regularly with triage personnel asking where you are on the list to be seen. Make sure the staff remembers you're there -- but of course, be polite about it.
You can find the wait time for your hospital here.