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Hospital and ER Overcrowding Leads to Increased Patient Risk

Emergency room visits are increasing, leading to overcrowding, which ultimately puts patients at risk. One reason for overcrowding is that patients waiting for scheduled procedures are often boarded in the ER while waiting for a bed. At the root of the problem is money. Hospitals are struggling, and there are fewer of them today. One response to overcrowding is “smoothing,” the practice of adjusting surgical schedules to relieve choke points in ER admissions. However, this doesn’t solve the problem entirely. Those injured due to negligence resulting from boarding should consider legal recourse.

Key Takeaways:

  • Boarding leads to overcrowding, which in turn is linked to the increased frequency of medical error and higher mortality.
  • Medicare’s reimbursement rates incentivize invasive surgery and elective procedures over condition management.
  • A method known as smoothing has proven effective at relieving choke points in ER admissions.

“There are numerous factors at play in ER overcrowding, but one persistent cause is the practice of boarding patients, or holding them in the ER while waiting for an inpatient bed.”

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