Many believe that the "boarding" of emergency department (ED) patients awaiting inpatient beds compromises quality of care. To better study the quality of care of boarded patients, one should identify and understand the mechanisms accounting for any potential differences in care. This paper presents a conceptual boarding "structure-process-outcome" model to help assess quality of care provided to boarded patients and to aid in recognizing potential solutions to improve that quality, if it is deficient. The goal of the conceptual model is to create a practical framework on which a research and policy agenda can be based to measure and improve quality of care for boarded patients.
© 2011 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.