Strategies to Reduce ED Crowding Rarely Implemented, Putting Patients at Risk

August 15, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Despite being well-researched and widely known, strategies to reduce crowding and boarding in the emergency department (ED) are “grossly underused,” according to a study in the August 2012 Health Affairs. Boarding and crowding are not problems that typically originate in the ED, the authors say, but rather result from reimbursement and bed-allocation systems that incentivize eliminating empty beds and giving priority to elective procedures. For example, empty beds are often reserved for anticipated transfers from other hospitals or to maintain beds available for certain specialties; this can lead to inpatient beds remaining empty while patients are boarded in ED hallways awaiting admission.

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