Columbia, SC (WACH) - According to ProPublica and its ER wait watcher, the national average wait time in an emergency room is 28 minutes, and in South Carolina, the average wait time is 32 minutes.
While you might live near an emergency room, the wait watcher may have you driving a greater distance to be treated sooner.
"There is no typical day in the emergency department," said Dr. Steve Shelton, who oversees the Palmetto Health Richland emergency room.
The site breaks down wait times based on what kind of issue you're dealing with such as a broken bone.
Shelton says while wait times can be long in some cases, Palmetto Health will always take care of patients regardless of their problem.
"We provide treatment to anybody who shows up. We turn no one away," said Shelton.
He says the emergency room's top priority is to assist those who are the sickest first, which can be a process that determines how long you or your loved one may have to wait.
"We want to recognize those patients who need to see a physician immediately to have some lifesaving intervention. Once we determine that that's not needed, we back away from there and look for folks that need care urgently," added Shelton.
Doctor Shelton says those scenarios can range from heart attacks and strokes, to car crashes.
Once doctors have determined the patient's urgent condition, they look at the kinds of resources the patient will need such as an X-ray or a CAT scan among other things.
"There are times that we're busier and times we are slower. In the emergency department we really don't know when those times are. We're dependent on what occurs with each individual out there," said Shelton.
The ER Wait Watcher only provides average wait times, and recommends calling your preferred hospital to find out current wait times.
Besides the "patients left without being seen" average wait time, all data was collected between April of 2012 to 2013.
To learn the wait times of emergency rooms in your area, click here.