Objectives: Emergency departments (EDs) are the basic unit of emergency medicine, but often differ in fundamental features. We sought to describe and characterize EDs in Denmark.
Methods: All EDs open 24/7 to the general public were surveyed using the National ED Inventories survey instrument (http://www.emnet-nedi.org). ED staff were asked about ED characteristics with reference to the calendar year 2008.
Results: Twenty-eight EDs participated (82% response). All were located in hospitals. Less than half [43%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 24-63%] were independent departments. Thirty-nine percent (95% CI 22-59%) had a contiguous layout, with medical and surgical care provided in one area. The vast majority of EDs saw both adults and children; only 10% saw adults only and none saw children only. The median number of annual visits was 32 000 (interquartile range, 14 700-47 000). The majority (68%, 95% CI 47-89%) believed that their ED was at good balance or capacity, with 22% responding that they were under capacity and 9% reporting overcapacity. Technological resources were generally available, with the exception of dedicated computed tomography scanners and negative-pressure rooms. Almost all common emergencies were identified as being treatable 24/7 in the EDs.
Conclusion: Although there is some variation in their layout and characteristics, most Danish EDs have a high degree of resource availability and are able to treat common emergencies. As Denmark seeks to reform emergency care through ED consolidation, this national survey helps to establish a benchmark for future comparisons.