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  1. C. Tapia1
  1. 1Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX


Emergency room length of stay is an issue of great concern to hospitals and patients. Intuitively, patients awaiting admission or transfer to another facility should expect longer wait times. Long wait times have been linked to dissatisfaction and have been suggested as a factor behind patient elopement from the emergency room. This study investigates length of stay by disposition and whether patients who elope before proper evaluation have a longer wait time to room placement and longer total length of stay. This study was conducted at Texas Children's Hospital, a busy pediatric tertiary care center with a dedicated children's emergency department (ED). Data were abstracted from electronic records for 14,508 emergency room visits in January and April 2005. Time to room, total length of stay, and disposition (admission, transfer, discharge, and elopement) were recorded. Time to room was significantly different by disposition. Length of stay was significantly longer for patients admitted and transferred than for patients who were discharged or who eloped. Patients evaluated in January had significantly longer stays compared with April. Patients who eloped had shorter time to room and shorter overall length of stay. In conclusion, time to room and length of stay in the Texas Children's ED were significantly different depending on disposition. Contrary to current belief, patients who eloped did not wait longer to get into a room or have longer total wait times before they left. Future studies should validate this finding, as well as put more emphasis on other factors, such as patient perception of wait time and other measures of ED crowding.

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