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State tops list for longest wait-time to see doctor

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Time spent in the waiting room is often a benchmark when patients consider choosing a doctor. According to a Vitals annual report analyzing U.S. trends in patient care, the shortest average physician wait time in 2012 actually increased more than a full minute from 2011.

And, Mississippi leads the nation in time spent waiting on treatment.

Alaska topped this year’s list of states with the shortest average wait time of 16 minutes, 28 seconds. Last year, Wisconsin led with an average wait of 15 minutes, 26 seconds.

Vitals, the creator of the first consumer marketplace for health care information, aggregates patient reviews and rankings of doctors and hospitals across the U.S. For its fourth annual Physician Wait Time Report, Vitals analyzed patient-reported wait times from its database of over 870,000 physicians to learn more about nationwide wait time trends.

“As the supply of qualified doctors remains unchanged, the new health care law requires 30 million more Americans to have health insurance,” said Mitch Rothschild, CEO, Vitals.com. “This flood of new demand is causing a major disruption to the system. For the unchanging supply of doctors, it will mean less time to spend with patients in examination rooms. It also has a direct impact on how long it takes to see a doctor – and ultimately weighs into how consumers choose their providers.”

Wisconsin, which led the nation with the shortest wait time last year, dropped to number two in this year’s rankings with an average delay of 16 minutes, 29 seconds. The remaining top five states with shortest physician wait times include Minnesota, New Hampshire and North Dakota. Mississippi repeated for a second year as the state with the longest wait, with an average wait time of 24 minutes, 25 seconds – although the total time decreased by 22 seconds from 2011. Rounding out the bottom five with the longest physician wait times are Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Nevada.

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  1. This is not based on actual statistics, but on “patient-reported” wait times. And the difference between first and last place is approximately 10 minutes? Really? This is statistically uninteresting and probably inaccurate. And I live and visit doctors in MS. I took my daughter to Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, MS on Christmas Eve with severe appendectomy. She was in surgery less than five hours after we walked through the doors. I’ve read reports of large cities with longer wait times than that before a doctor even sees the patient, regardless of the severity of their complaint.

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