America's ERs Are Jammed, Affecting Patients on Other Wards

November 16, 2022


Patients also wound up staying longer in the hospital when the ER was crowded.

A crowded emergency department is a sign of a hospital that's running at its absolute limits, said Dr. Ryan Stanton, a board member of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Patients typically clog an emergency department because the hospital is out of beds and there's nowhere else to put them.

"The emergency department is the barometer of the system," Stanton said. "If the ER is boarding patients and there are patients in the hallway, that means the rest of the system is completely flexed to capacity as well."

Previous research has shown that emergency department patients suffer and die when the ER is crowded, but Hsuan and her colleagues suspected that this effect might ripple beyond the unit's swinging doors.

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