Solutions to emergency department 'boarding' and crowding are underused and may need to be legislated

Health Aff (Millwood). 2012 Aug;31(8):1757-66. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2011.0786.


The practice of keeping admitted patients on stretchers in hospital emergency department hallways for hours or days, called "boarding," causes emergency department crowding and can be harmful to patients. Boarding increases patients' morbidity, lengths of hospital stay, and mortality. Strategies that optimize bed management reduce boarding by improving the efficiency of hospital patient flow, but these strategies are grossly underused. Convincing hospital leaders of the value of such solutions, and educating patients to advocate for such changes, may promote improvements. If these strategies do not work, legislation may be required to effect meaningful change.

MeSH terms

  • Crowding*
  • Efficiency, Organizational*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital* / economics
  • Emergency Service, Hospital* / organization & administration
  • Emergency Service, Hospital* / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospital Bed Capacity
  • Hospital Costs
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Patient Admission
  • Patient Discharge
  • United States