Point prevalence of access block and overcrowding in New Zealand emergency departments in 2010 and their relationship to the 'Shorter Stays in ED' target.Emerg Med Australas. 2011 Oct; 23(5):587-92.EM
To document the extent of access block and ED overcrowding in New Zealand in 2010 and to determine whether these were linked to the hospital's ability to meet the Shorter Stays in ED target.
Surveys of all New Zealand EDs were undertaken at two points in time in 2010 to determine ED occupancy. Data on target achievement during corresponding time periods were obtained from the Ministry of Health.
In tertiary and secondary hospitals, respectively, access block was seen in 64% versus 23% (P= 0.05) and overcrowding was seen in 57.1% versus 39% (P= 0.45). No hospital with access block met the 'Shorter Stays' target, compared with 60% without access block (P= 0.001). Twenty-three per cent of hospitals with ED overcrowding met the target compared with 43% without ED overcrowding (P= 0.42). The number of patients experiencing ≥8 h delay to admission were 25 in May and 59 in August (P= 0.04). This represented 45.5% and 79.7% of patients waiting for admission, respectively (P= 0.08).
Hospital access block was seen more often in larger hospitals and significantly associated with failure to meet the 'Shorter Stays in ED' health target, whereas ED overcrowding was seen in both small and large hospitals, but not associated with failure to meet the target.