3 tips to reduce emergency department overcrowding

By Zack Budryk

Emergency department (ED) overcrowding is a major problem in the nation's hospitals, exacerbated by physician shortages. A 2012 report found that ED visits grew 60 percent faster than the population and crowding rose even faster, growing by 3.1 percent annually from 2001 to 2008.

"Visit volume is going up, which is outpacing population group, and patients are staying longer and longer within the ED getting more intense work-ups and treatments," Jesse Pines, director of the Center for Healthcare Quality at George Washington University and associate professor of emergency medicine and health policy in Washington, D.C., told FierceHealthcare. "Together, the 'occupancy,' which is the number of patients in our nation's emergency care system at one time, is rising at a very rapid, unsustainable rate."

So how can providers reduce overcrowding in the ED? FierceHealthcare assembled these tips from national and statewide trends, and individual success stories.

3 tips to reduce emergency department overcrowding