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The Most Crowded US Hospital Emergency Departments Did Not Adopt Effective Interventions To Improve Flow 200710

Author: Leah S. Honigman Warner, Jesse M. Pines, Jennifer Gibson Chambers, Jeremiah D. Schuur
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Emergency department (ED) crowding adversely affects patient care and outcomes. Despite national recommendations to address crowding, it persists in most US EDs today. Using nationally representative data, we evaluated the use of interventions to address crowding in US hospitals in the period 2007–10. We examined the relationship between crowding within an ED itself, measured as longer ED lengths-of-stay, and the number of interventions adopted. In our study period the average number of interventions adopted increased from 5.2 to 6.6, and seven of the seventeen studied interventions saw a significant increase in adoption. In general, more crowded EDs adopted greater numbers of interventions than less crowded EDs. However, in the most crowded quartile of EDs, a large proportion had not adopted effective interventions: 19 percent did not use bedside registration, and 94 percent did not use surgical schedule smoothing. Thus, while adoption of strategies to reduce ED crowding is increasing, many of the nation’s most crowded EDs have not adopted proven interventions.

Emergency department (ED) crowding adversely affects patient care and outcomes. Despite national recommendations to address crowding, it persists in most US EDs today. Using nationally representative data, we evaluated the use of interventions to address crowding in US hospitals in the period 2007–10. We examined the relationship between crowding within an ED itself, measured as longer ED lengths-of-stay, and the number of interventions adopted. In our study period the average number of interventions adopted increased from 5.2 to 6.6, and seven of the seventeen studied interventions saw a significant increase in adoption. In general, more crowded EDs adopted greater numbers of interventions than less crowded EDs. However, in the most crowded quartile of EDs, a large proportion had not adopted effective interventions: 19 percent did not use bedside registration, and 94 percent did not use surgical schedule smoothing. Thus, while adoption of strategies to reduce ED crowding is increasing, many of the nation’s most crowded EDs have not adopted proven interventions.

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