For any Massachusetts resident, almost anything would be more preferable to waiting in the emergency room. Sometimes patients have had to wait for hours if the ER is especially busy or the staff is disorganized. Hospitals across the country have made great improvements recently to their wait times, but it is still common for those with medical emergencies to wait longer than they would like in the ER before being seen. There is also the chance that when an emergency room is busy or understaffed, people with life-threatening conditions may not be seen soon enough.

The national average wait time before being seen by an emergency room doctor is 24 minutes, states ProPublica. Additionally, it takes about 135 minutes on average for a patient’s entire emergency room visit before being sent home. Massachusetts falls behind on these numbers, with an average 35-minute wait to be seen and 161 minutes total. People with life-threatening emergencies are placed ahead of those with not-so-severe conditions. However, it is always possible for a nurse or doctor error to occur and a patient with signs of a stroke, heart attack or other grave situation to wait too long. In these cases, they should be seen in moments, rather than a half hour or longer.

Overcrowding is one factor that contributes to long ER waits, according to U.S. News. When the ER is busy, it may be easy for a triage nurse to make a mistake about the severity of a patient’s complaints. It is possible for a medical negligence case to stem from the issue of simply waiting too long before a doctor could take care of a serious injury or illness.