Emergency Room Doctors With an Urgent Warning About Wait Times

The nation's ER doctors say the system has become so clogged it could affect urgent health care.
3:00 | 01/16/14

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Transcript for Emergency Room Doctors With an Urgent Warning About Wait Times
And there was an urgent warning about hospital emergency rooms in this country. The nation's doctors coming together to warn us about the length of time it takes to get treated. Abc's linsey davis, now, talks to the doctors on the front lines to ask what a patient can do. Reporter: It's urgent. You race to the e.R. But what you can find can be a very long line. Despite it being an emergency, ten years ago, it took on average 46 minutes before being treated. Today, you can expect to wait anur or more. That's just one reason why the new report gave the nation's emergency care environment a d-plus. Some patients can't get timely access to good primary care. Their problems become worse. They get sicker. And then, they show up in our emergency department. Reporter: One e.R. Doctor we're not naming, describing how overwhelming it can be. Saying, we are not superheros. Our job is to make sure the sickest get seen first. But then the other hundred, or however many, sit and sit and sit and wait and wait, and it gets more and more crowded. When the hospital is backed up, we're the place where you feel it. Reporter: We know too many come to the e.R. Because they're uninsured. But making matters worse, HOSPITALS AND E.R.s ARE CLOSING. The ones open can be clogged with people overdosing on painkillers. As well as those coming for the wrong reasons, like refilling their prescription. But the same emergency care doctors who released this report card want people experiencing an emergency to still head to the e.R. What they want is america to fix what one doctor told us today is a system that's at its breaking point. Linsey davis, abc news, new york.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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