In a recent interview published by Corriere della Sera (read in English), Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize winner and Harvard University Professor of Economics, praises Italian hospitals for their high quality and their ability to manage an emergency situation.
Emergency medical assistance in Italy is either free of charge or extremely inexpensive, thanks to the fact that it is covered by public funds for NHS.
As all things free, emergency rooms attract great affluence, especially out of office-hours and during holidays, and hospitals in Rome often get very crowded, resulting in extremely long waiting time for all non-emergency cases.
The database monitors in real time the number of patients waiting and being treated in all public emergency rooms in Rome.
When you arrive at an ER, a nurse assesses the severity of your condition and assigns you a color code. This process is known as the triage. The codes are:
Red Code: life-threatening conditions that need immediate attention
Yellow Code: potentially life-threatening conditions, that urgently require treatment
Green Code: minor injuries/illnesses that can wait before receiving medical attention
White Code: stable, non-urgent condition
Light Blue: waiting for triage
If you are assigned the color WHITE or GREEN and there are other patients with RED or YELLOW code, your stay at the hospital may be very, very long.
Open the page with real time Emergency Rooms Queue. Don’t panic, this guide will help you understand the numbers.
The table in front of you shows the complete list of Roman public emergency rooms with details on their current status.
The first column is the name of the hospital, the second column (highlighted in red in Fig. 1) indicates the city where it is located. If you click on “Comune”, the title of the second column, the list will be ordered by city. This way you can check the hospitals in your city and disregard the others. Some cities in Lazio may only have one hospital, but in others you have plenty of choice. In Rome, for example, there are 19 Emergency Rooms, all listed in this tool.
Check the column highlighted in red in Fig. 2. This is dedicated to patients waiting to be visited (pazienti in attesa). It shows the distribution of patients of different codes and, in the last column, the total number of patients waiting to be seen in each ER.
See the details in Fig. 3 as an example.
There are 0 patients with red code, 1 patient with yellow code, 6 patients with green code and 2 patients with white code. The total number of patients waiting to be seen in this hospital is 9 (last column). Check the last number of all the hospitals in Rome and focus your attention on those that have a low TOT. If there is a high number of waiting patients you are likely to wait a long time. If the total number of waiting patients is low, you need to check the number of red codes and yellow codes. Even if there are only a few patients waiting, if many of them are serious cases they are likely to attract the attention of most of the medical staff, therefore non urgent cases (green and white) will be kept waiting. In this case, you may end up waiting less in a more crowded ER but with no red or yellow cases.
Once you have selected an ER with a low number of red and yellow codes and a low total number of waiting patients, check the next column on the right (Fig. 4) with the number of patients being treated at the moment in each hospital. The same rule applies here: if the total number of patients is low, it’s a good sign but you should still check red and yellow codes. Once you find a hospital with a reasonable number of waiting patients where patients being treated are not too many as well, you can proceed to the next step.
Now that you have selected the best option, check the type of hospital (column “Tipo”, in red in Fig. 5).
The codes indicate what kind of ER the hospital has.
DEA II is the most advanced category of ER, equipped for heart surgery, neurosurgery, intensive neonatal care, vascular surgery and thoracic surgery.
DEA I is the second most advanced level. It is equipped for observation and short term acute care, intensive care, general surgery, orthopedics and traumatology, cardiology unit with intensive care unit, transfusions, labwork and imaging.
PS is the most basic level of ER, dedicated and equipped for diagnosis of the clinical condition, stabilization of the patient, and, if necessary, transportation to another hospital for special care.
PS SPEC is a specialized ER, dedicated only to some aspects. In the list there is Oftalmico for eye care and C.T.O. Andrea Alesini for orthopedics and traumatology. Unless you are looking for these specialties, you shouldn’t go to these hospitals.
Keep in mind that a DEA II hospital is likely to be much larger than a PS, therefore the same number of patients might be seen in a shorter time in a hospital with more staff.
One last thing to consider, now that you have verified that the hospital you are going to is equipped for your needs, is whether you would have to wait in case you need to be admitted at the hospital. The column in red in Fig. 6 reports the number of patients waiting for admission or to be transferred to other hospitals for admission. Most cases do not require admission, but if you suspect you might need it you should also verify that this number is not too high.
Checking this tool before leaving for the hospital will take a few minutes, but it may save you hours if you use it well. Even though data is updated every 6 minutes, there is no guarantee that the situation will not change. It is, however, a good proxy of how crowded emergency rooms are and it can be very helpful.
Finding hospitals in Rome can be a bit challenging, especially if you are only in Italy for a short vacation or have just recently moved. To spare you the time and effort of finding the proper hospital for your medical needs, we created an interactive map that includes all public hospitals in Rome:
Select hospitals that are closer to your position and check on the table above what the waiting times are. Using our map of hospitals in Rome, you can also look for specialty units, pediatrics units, or eye care units. As not all hospitals have the means to care for all specialties, you may want to check in advance what are the services offered. Click on the symbols for more details about each hospital (e.g. address, phone and directions)
Warning: Italian healthcare professionals are highly qualified, though not all doctors speak English and language barriers can cause dangerous misunderstandings. If you are not in a medical emergency, you should consider looking for an English-speaking medical center in Rome.