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Waiting for care. Queuing and resource allocation

, : Waiting for care. Queuing and resource allocation. Medical Care 25(2): 131-139

Queues arise in medical care and serve as allocators in the absence of an effective market and when resources become perceptibly constrained. This is essentially the case in all countries where money is not the means for gaining access to medical services. A study estimated that the total wait in England was 96 days for nonemergency care leading to hospitalization, including primary and specialty ambulatory care, for that one quarter of patients who had been placed on a waiting list. Of the remaining hospitalized population one half were admitted immediately and another one fourth were either booked or transferred from other hospitals. The widely accepted notion that a large majority of hospitalized patients wait a long time for care in Britain is mistaken. The emphasis on primary ambulatory care means that essentially no one has to wait for general practitioner care. The wait for elective ambulatory specialty care averaged approximately 8 weeks for all patients. Although mortality is rarely an issue for those who wait, an argument can be made that convenience and quality of life are importantly affected.


PMID: 3821220

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