Study: ED crowding affects care

A new study suggests that overcrowding has a direct impact on the care emergency departments provide, even if the ED hasn't exceeded its maximum capacity. Researchers behind the study argue that efforts to boost ED treatment quality should definitely include the impact of patient volume.

The study, which appears in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, looked at care provided to patients with community-acquired pneumonia in a university tertiary care hospital ED. Researchers looked at data on patients admitted and discharged between January 2004 and June 2005. It concluded that the likelihood of such patients getting antibiotics within 4 hours went down as the ED saw more patients. While 61 percent got antibiotics within four hours, many others didn't, and the impact of additional patients was felt even when the ED wasn't full.

To get more details from the study:
- read this article abstract

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