Focus on Alberta emergency departments

Key themes - Source: June 2022 survey

ED visits are more common in certain locations

29% of patients say they visited an ED in the past year; 47% of those visited more than once.  
ED visits are more prevalent in Northern and Central zones and lowest in Edmonton.  
Outside Calgary and Edmonton, rural (vs. small urban sites) saw the highest level of single visits (45%) and multiple visits (13% visited four times or more). 

They feel they are waiting longer

Patients (84% of respondents) feel ED waits are “fairly” or “very” long. (The “very long” contingent is 16% larger than in 2016). Most reported waiting up to five hours for care, roughly four-in-ten said two hours or less and 15% reported over six hours.

The “tipping point” for satisfaction seems to sit somewhere around three hours. Among those whose wait was two hours or less, 80% found the waiting time “reasonable.” For those waiting three – five hours, 69% feel it was too long, increasing to 90% for those waiting six hours or more.

They appreciate the care but also believe that overall quality has deteriorated

Regarding their last visits, 62% rate the quality of care from doctors and staff as “good” vs. only 16% saying “bad.”

Longer waits in the ED lead to lower ratings for quality and a perception that quality has declined.

Almost one-half (49%) believe the quality of care in EDs has declined over the past four years.

Younger and more affluent patients without chronic conditions tend to give the highest ratings for quality of care.

Ratings of wait times tend to be more negative this year vs. those from more than a year ago

71% of those interviewed believe timeliness of care in Alberta’s EDs has declined in the past four years (vs. 5% saying “improved”).

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