Patients at Overcrowded EDs More Likely To Die in Hospital, Study Finds
Patients at overcrowded emergency departments were more likely to die in the hospital than patients at less-crowded EDs, according to a study of California hospitals published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the Washington Post's "Wonkblog" reports (Kliff, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 12/6).
The study used 2007 data from 995,379 ED visits at 187 non-federal, acute-care hospitals.
Researchers from Oregon Health and Science University assessed overcrowding by measuring ambulance diversions, which occur when EDs become too busy to accept new patients.
The study found a 5% increase in mortality rates for patients in EDs that were diverting ambulances to other facilities.
According to the study, overcrowding was linked to 300 patient fatalities at California hospitals in 2007.
In addition, the researchers found a correlation between ED overcrowding and longer hospitals stays and higher costs.
The researchers wrote, "Our findings support the perception of ED crowding as a marker of poor quality of care" (Selvam, Modern Physician, 12/6).They added, "ED crowding may reduce access through prolonged waiting times or through increased time to care as a result of longer ambulance transport after diversion" ("Wonkblog," Washington Post, 12/6). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.