Emergency department patients who stay more than 6 hours contribute to crowding.J Emerg Med. 2010 Jul; 39(1):105-12.JE
Admitted and discharged patients with prolonged emergency department (ED) stays may contribute to crowding by utilizing beds and staff time that would otherwise be used for new patients.
To describe patients who stay > 6 h in the ED and determine their association with measures of crowding.
This was a retrospective, observational study carried out over 1 year at a single, urban, academic ED.
Of the 96,562 patients seen, 16,017 (17%) stayed > 6 h (51% admitted). When there was at least one patient staying > 6 h, 60% of the time there was at least one additional patient in the waiting room who could not be placed in an ED bed because none was open. The walk-out rate was 0.34 patients/hour when there were no patients staying in the ED > 6 h, vs. 0.77 patients/hour walking out when there were patients staying > 6 h in the ED (p < 0.001). When the ED contained more than 3 patients staying > 6 h, a trend was noted between increasing numbers of patients staying in the ED > 6 h and the percentage of time the ED was on ambulance diversion (p = 0.011).
In our ED, having both admitted and discharged patients staying > 6 h is associated with crowding.