About ER Ticker

If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

History

I originally started this website because my wife is an emergency medicine physician, and she works quite a bit past her scheduled shift times, which is common for these doctors. I realized that the greater the wait time, the busier the emergency department was (she doesn't like the term "emergency room" since it's not actually a single room), and the busier the emergency department was, the later she came home. I had been late to looking up online wait times in general (friends of mine had been looking before going for years), but I think they got more common only recently.

So I started looking at the online wait times of the hospitals she works at which both happened to be for Inova (they are quite large in our area). Being an engineer, I thought it would be interesting to try and determine trends in the wait times at her hospitals. (Truth be told, I was also interested in learning some web stuff.) Then I thought it would be cool to do for more Inova hospitals. Then I thought it would be cool to do for even more hospitals in our area.

I still wasn't quite satisfied; I had some spare cloud computing cycles, and I wanted to use them! So then she told me that urgent care centers were often reasonable alternatives to emergency departments, so I started tracking some of those. And that's how I got here, hopefully providing useful and accurate wait time information all on one handy little page of the Internet.

Descriptions of Facilities

This website puts each facility it describes into one of three categories:

Emergency Rooms

You go to the emergency room when you have life-threatening injuries or very severe illness. Really dangerous symptoms include difficulty breathing and chest pains. If you're not sure, just go to the ER to be safe.

Pediatric Emergency Rooms

As the name implies, a pediatric emergency room is an emergency room for kids. Although a regular emergency room can accept children, pediatric emergency rooms have specialized staff and equipment for kids. If you have one near you and have the luxury of time, take your kids to a pediatric emergency room.

Urgent Care Centers

If you need to be treated quickly but it's not life-threatening (e.g., a broken bone, strep throat, tetanus shot), an urgent care center might be for you. They usually cost less (even with insurance), and you can often make an appointment. Keep in mind that they are not usually open 24 hours, so check their hours before you go!

Wait Times

All the wait times are gathered from each facility's website (you may have to follow a few links from their website to find it, but it's there, otherwise we wouldn't have it).

Caveat

Be aware that wait time calculations, definitions, minimum and maximum values, and caveats differ from site to site, so if it's really important, read through their wait time description.

Icons

Here is a brief description of icon meanings:

Emergency Room with 0 to 15 minutes Wait Time The red color of this icon indicates that this is an Emergency Room. The quarter pie inside the icon represents a current wait time of 0 to 15 minutes.
Pediatric Emergency Room with 15 to 30 minutes Wait Time The blue color of this icon indicates that this is a Pediatric Emergency Room. The half pie inside the icon represents a current wait time of 15 to 30 minutes.
Urgent Care Center with 30 to 45 minutes Wait Time The green color of this icon indicates that this is an Urgent Care Center. The three-quarters pie inside the icon represents a current wait time of 30 to 45 minutes.
Emergency Room with over 45 minutes Wait Time The red color of this icon indicates that this is an Emergency Room. The full pie inside the icon represents a current wait time of over 45 minutes. The maximum wait time recorded is 120 minutes (2 hours).
Urgent Care Center with Wait Time Not Available The green color of this icon indicates that this is an Urgent Care Center. The dotted circle inside the icon indicates that the wait time estimate is Not Available (NA). This dotted circle is used when a facility does not post wait times ever or the current wait time is not available due to the facility being closed or experiencing a technical difficulty.

Mentions

Every now and again, we get some attention from the Internet (either because I posted something or because other people notice)! Here are some examples! (Hopefully this list grows!)