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Causes of Emergency Department Overcrowding and Blockage of Access to Critical Services in Beijing: A 2-Year Study.
J Emerg Med. 2018 05; 54(5):665-673.JE

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Emergency department (ED) overcrowding is a serious issue worldwide.

OBJECTIVES

This study was done to evaluate the degree of overcrowding in local "teaching hospitals" in Beijing, and to ascertain the apparent root causes for the pervasive degree of overcrowding in these EDs.

METHODS

This is a multicenter cross-sectional study. The studied population included all ED patients from 18 metropolitan teaching hospital EDs in Beijing for calendar years 2013 and 2014. Patient characteristics, and the primary reasons that these patients sought care in these EDs, are described.

RESULTS

The total numbers of annual emergency visits were 1,554,387 and 1,615,571 in 2013 and 2014, respectively. High acuity cases accounted for 4.6% and 5.5% of the total annual emergency visits in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The percentage of patients placed into "Observation" beds, which were created to accommodate patients deemed to have problems too complex to be treated in an inpatient bed, or to accommodate patients simply needing chronic care, was 11.9% and 13.1% in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The ED-boarded patients accounted for 2.71% and 2.6% of the total annual emergency visits in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The average waiting time to admit the ED-boarded patients was 37.1 h and 36.2 h in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Respiratory symptoms were the most common presenting complaints, and an upper respiratory infection was the most common ED diagnosis. Patients who had pneumonia or various manifestations of end-stage diseases, such as advanced dementia or multiple organ dysfunction, were the most common characteristics of patients who had stays in "Observation" units.

CONCLUSIONS

One principal reason for ED crowding in Beijing lies in the large numbers of patients who persist in the expectation of receiving ongoing care in the ED for minor illnesses. However, as is true in many nations, one of the other most important root causes of ED crowding is "access block," the inability to promptly move patients deemed by emergency physicians to need inpatient care to an inpatient bed for that care. However, in our system, another challenge, not widely described as a contributor to crowding in other nations, is that doctors assigned to inpatient services have been empowered to refuse to admit patients perceived to have overly "complex" needs. Further, patients with multisystem illnesses or end-stage status, who need ongoing chronic care to manage activities of daily living, have begun to populate Beijing EDs in increasing numbers. This is an issue with various root causes.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Emergency Medicine, the 9th Clinical Medical College of Peking University, Beijing Shijitan Hospital, Beijing Capital University, Beijing, China.Department of Emergency Medicine, the 9th Clinical Medical College of Peking University, Beijing Shijitan Hospital, Beijing Capital University, Beijing, China.Department of Emergency Medicine, the 9th Clinical Medical College of Peking University, Beijing Shijitan Hospital, Beijing Capital University, Beijing, China.Department of Emergency Medicine, the 9th Clinical Medical College of Peking University, Beijing Shijitan Hospital, Beijing Capital University, Beijing, China.Department of Emergency Medicine, Beijing United Family Healthcare, Beijing, China.Department of Critical Care Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, New Jersey.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Multicenter Study

Language

eng

PubMed ID

29573904

Citation

Wang, Zhen, et al. "Causes of Emergency Department Overcrowding and Blockage of Access to Critical Services in Beijing: a 2-Year Study." The Journal of Emergency Medicine, vol. 54, no. 5, 2018, pp. 665-673.
Wang Z, Xiong X, Wang S, et al. Causes of Emergency Department Overcrowding and Blockage of Access to Critical Services in Beijing: A 2-Year Study. J Emerg Med. 2018;54(5):665-673.
Wang, Z., Xiong, X., Wang, S., Yan, J., Springer, M., & Dellinger, R. P. (2018). Causes of Emergency Department Overcrowding and Blockage of Access to Critical Services in Beijing: A 2-Year Study. The Journal of Emergency Medicine, 54(5), 665-673. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jemermed.2018.02.009
Wang Z, et al. Causes of Emergency Department Overcrowding and Blockage of Access to Critical Services in Beijing: a 2-Year Study. J Emerg Med. 2018;54(5):665-673. PubMed PMID: 29573904.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Causes of Emergency Department Overcrowding and Blockage of Access to Critical Services in Beijing: A 2-Year Study. AU - Wang,Zhen, AU - Xiong,Xiaying, AU - Wang,Shuang, AU - Yan,Junguo, AU - Springer,Martin, AU - Dellinger,R P, Y1 - 2018/03/21/ PY - 2017/06/06/received PY - 2018/02/01/revised PY - 2018/02/06/accepted PY - 2018/3/27/pubmed PY - 2018/12/18/medline PY - 2018/3/26/entrez KW - emergency department KW - emergency department-boarded patients KW - observation KW - overcrowding SP - 665 EP - 673 JF - The Journal of emergency medicine JO - J Emerg Med VL - 54 IS - 5 N2 - BACKGROUND: Emergency department (ED) overcrowding is a serious issue worldwide. OBJECTIVES: This study was done to evaluate the degree of overcrowding in local "teaching hospitals" in Beijing, and to ascertain the apparent root causes for the pervasive degree of overcrowding in these EDs. METHODS: This is a multicenter cross-sectional study. The studied population included all ED patients from 18 metropolitan teaching hospital EDs in Beijing for calendar years 2013 and 2014. Patient characteristics, and the primary reasons that these patients sought care in these EDs, are described. RESULTS: The total numbers of annual emergency visits were 1,554,387 and 1,615,571 in 2013 and 2014, respectively. High acuity cases accounted for 4.6% and 5.5% of the total annual emergency visits in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The percentage of patients placed into "Observation" beds, which were created to accommodate patients deemed to have problems too complex to be treated in an inpatient bed, or to accommodate patients simply needing chronic care, was 11.9% and 13.1% in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The ED-boarded patients accounted for 2.71% and 2.6% of the total annual emergency visits in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The average waiting time to admit the ED-boarded patients was 37.1 h and 36.2 h in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Respiratory symptoms were the most common presenting complaints, and an upper respiratory infection was the most common ED diagnosis. Patients who had pneumonia or various manifestations of end-stage diseases, such as advanced dementia or multiple organ dysfunction, were the most common characteristics of patients who had stays in "Observation" units. CONCLUSIONS: One principal reason for ED crowding in Beijing lies in the large numbers of patients who persist in the expectation of receiving ongoing care in the ED for minor illnesses. However, as is true in many nations, one of the other most important root causes of ED crowding is "access block," the inability to promptly move patients deemed by emergency physicians to need inpatient care to an inpatient bed for that care. However, in our system, another challenge, not widely described as a contributor to crowding in other nations, is that doctors assigned to inpatient services have been empowered to refuse to admit patients perceived to have overly "complex" needs. Further, patients with multisystem illnesses or end-stage status, who need ongoing chronic care to manage activities of daily living, have begun to populate Beijing EDs in increasing numbers. This is an issue with various root causes. SN - 0736-4679 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/29573904/Causes_of_Emergency_Department_Overcrowding_and_Blockage_of_Access_to_Critical_Services_in_Beijing:_A_2_Year_Study_ L2 - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0736-4679(18)30118-5 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -