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Why the long wait? Report details issues behind ER wait times in Maryland

Report details why Maryland ER wait times are so long
Report details why Maryland ER wait times are so long 02:11

BALTIMORE - Emergency room wait times in Maryland continue to be some of the worst in the country.

A workgroup, put together by the Maryland Hospital Association, detailed what's behind the wait time in a report.

One of the people who helped create the report is concerned the suggested solutions in the report don't go far enough to fix the problem.

In 2022, Anna Palmisano spent over five hours in an emergency room with her husband. In that whole time, she only met with nurses, who misused an IV on her husband's arm.

They left without ever seeing a doctor.

"I thought, I've been here for five hours and the only thing that has happened is my husband has been injured. I had to make the decision whether it was more dangerous to stay in the ER or to go home -- and we went home," Palmisano said.

Her story is one of many in Maryland, as ER wait times continue to be hours upon hours long.

To address the issue, lawmakers called on the MHA to create the Maryland General Assembly Hospital Throughput Work Group. Palmisano was one of 28 people to serve on it.

In a report published in March, the workgroup found lacking hospital capacity, a lack of community healthcare options, and a behavioral health crisis as some of the core reasons behind the problem.

Palmisano said the workgroup didn't look at the issue of understaffing enough, recalling in her 2022 ER visit, "there must have been two nurses for at least 35 patients."

The report suggests more than a dozen policies to curb the issue, including funding and workforce development strategies.

"Maryland hospitals care deeply about responding to the needs of the patients in the state... There are numerous interventions already underway to improve hospital throughput," said Erin Dorrien, Vice President of Policy for MHA and co-chair of the work group.

Palmisano worries not enough is being done to help immediately. She hopes that changes down the line.

"We need to turn this around and that's gonna require some big steps, important actions, not just nibbling around the edge of the problem," she said.

Palmisano also serves as the director of Marylanders for Patient Rights. 

She describes it as a coalition of 22 advocacy groups that fights for patients' rights, patient safety, and reducing ER wait times.

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