Check Wait Times of Local Hospital ERs Online

Updated: 03/13/2013 7:35 AM KSTP.com By: Katherine Johnson

Two-year-old Abby St. Aubin was jumping on her bed in Lakeville when she tripped on a pillow and landed herself in a full-body cast for six weeks.

"She calls it her pink snowsuit," said her father, Jon.

Abby and her father waited in the emergency room at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis for just over 20 minutes before she was seen by a doctor and treated for a broken femur.

"She's a little trooper and she held up good, but I think we're pretty fortunate to have a strong-willed daughter," said St. Aubin.

The new 'Hospital Compare' tool on medicare.gov helps family's like the St. Aubin's check the average wait time at a hospital before showing up. We compared Hennepin County Medical Center, North Memorial Medical Center and Fairview Southdale Hospital.

At HCMC, it's 29 minutes. North Memorial is an average wait of 12 minutes and Fairview Southdale is 58 minutes.

For Abby's dad, the 20 minute wait Children's felt like hours.

"That was the very difficult part about it too," he said. "Not only seeing her in pain but knowing she's in pain and knowing there's nothing you can do about it."

This tool will be useful for the St. Aubins, a family already preparing for their next hospital visit.

"In two weeks, we have another one on the way," he said.  "A little boy. And I guess we're going to see what happens!"

North Memorial says they keep the wait times down by using a bedside registration system so patients can talk to a doctor before even doing the paperwork. Fairview Southdale Hospital sent us the following statement to explain why the average wait time in the ER is almost an hour:

Fairview Southdale Hospital strives to provide the best possible patient experience in the emergency department setting.

The wait times, as listed in Hospital Compare, draw on data collected over a three month period-January through March of 2012. Wait times at Twin Cities hospitals can vary dramatically from day to day, and throughout a calendar year.

Wait times are influenced by a number of factors, including the number of people seeking care during a given period of time, the reason for their visit, capacity of the department, and acuity (severity of illness or injury) of our patients.

Fairview Southdale Hospital consistently ranks among the nation's best in several critical care measures, including specialty access for cardiac, stroke and general surgery patients.