CDC report: Patients waiting for emergency care getting longer as nation ages

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The nation's emergency rooms are becoming more crowded, and patients are generally spending more time waiting for treatment, a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. The length of visits is likely to increase as the nation's population ages, it adds.

The CDC reports ER rooms logged 110.2 million visits in 2002, an increase of 2.7 million compared with 2001. Fifty five percent of those patients needed care immediately or urgently, compared with 50.4% in 2001.

The agency reports 41% of the visits in 2002 lasted between two and six hours compared with 37% the year prior.

The statistics were released in the CDC's annual summary of hospital emergency department visits prepared by the National Center for Health Statistics.