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Article of the Month - January 2007



Emergency Department Overcrowding: Is There a Solution?

Marc Y-R Linares, M.D., Ryan Keller, M.D.


Virtually all patients who visit an emergency department in the United States are guaranteed one thing: some sort of waiting period prior to seeing a physician. As emergency departments across the country become more crowded yearly, patients become more frustrated with lengthening waiting times, physicians and nurses strain to increase throughput, administrators struggle to keep up with increasing staffing demands, and health insurance agencies look for ways to keep health care costs under control. Even more worrisome is the increased risk of poor patient outcomes that accompany crowded ED settings (1). Furthermore, the problem is not an American phenomenon; European (2,3), Australian (4,5) and Chinese (6) emergency departments face similar challenges.

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