Emergency Department ( Ed ) Overcrowding

3259 Words14 Pages
Emergency department (ED) overcrowding has become an international health crisis and been identified as a major threaten to public health. As defined by Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, overcrowding is a situation in which ED patients’ demand for services exceeds the staffing capacity to provide care within a reasonable length of time, thereby impeding ED function. Some has called ED as the safety net of the health care system, given its unique role in public health. However, the increasing problem of crowding and the associated impacts has strained this safety net to the “breaking point”. ED overcrowding and prolonged waiting time are associate with adverse consequences towards quality of care and patient safety, as well as…show more content…
A point prevalence study conducted by … fount that the mean reported waiting time was 3.7 hours per patient. The times for the longest boarded patient ranged from 15 minutes to 33 hours, with a mean maximum waiting time of 8.3 hours. The prolonged ED waiting time resulted from ED overcrowding has negative adverse outcomes upon different stakeholders, including not only patients, but also staff members and hospitals.

First of all, ED overcrowding has a significant negative effect on patient safety and quality of care. According to….., for patients judged by the triage nurse to be critical, more than 10% waited more than 1 hour to see a doctor. This is dangerous, because many illnesses are time dependent. Late diagnose might result in delays in the treatment and cause permanent consequences of disability or death. High occupancy in one Australian ED was estimated to cause 13 patient deaths per year. Another study examined the complication rate among patients with acute coronary syndrome and found a significant increase in serious complication in patients seeking emergency care during times of crowding. Patients and their accompanying family or friends may also have greater exposure to hospital-acquired infections during prolonged waiting time.

In addition, the longer patients wait, the greater the likelihood they will leave prior to receiving care or being seen by a doctor. A number of these walkouts are twice as likely to report worsened health
Get Access