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Hospital Using Cell Phone Texting to Broadcast ER Waiting Times

Posted May 13 2010 11:33am

This is a good idea so at least you can make a decision on whether or not to wait, or if you are not in dire need, take time out to go get your groceries or go to the bank while you wait (grin).  If the waiting room is crowded and the wait time is a few hours, this would also make more room for people to sit down too.  Of course we don’t want to see those long waits, but sometimes depending on volume of people waiting, it can’t be helped.  BD 

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If you've ever had to go to an emergency room to be treated, you might know how unpredictable the wait for a doctor can be. Someone might see you in five minutes, but it's possible -- likely, even -- to get stuck there for hours.

To make the ER more patient-friendly, Reston Hospital Center has devised a text-messaging service that tells you how long the wait will probably be. People can text "ER" to the number 23000 and receive a reply with the most up-to-date wait time. Standard message rates apply, as they say, depending on your cellphone plan.

Waiting times are also publicized on the hospital's Web site, http://www.restonhospital.com .

Reston's ER medical director, Darren Lisse, stresses that the service is designed for folks with relatively minor medical conditions, such as a sprained ankle, and that anyone with chest pains or other potentially life-threatening problems should still call 911.

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