Patients overwhelmingly prefer inpatient boarding to emergency department boarding

J Emerg Med. 2013 Dec;45(6):942-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2013.07.018. Epub 2013 Sep 21.


Background: Boarding of admitted patients in the emergency department (ED) is a major cause of crowding. One alternative to boarding in the ED, a full-capacity protocol where boarded patients are redeployed to inpatient units, can reduce crowding and improve overall flow.

Objective: Our aim was to compare patient satisfaction with boarding in the ED vs. inpatient hallways.

Methods: We performed a structured telephone survey regarding patient experiences and preferences for boarding among admitted ED patients who experienced boarding in the ED hallway and then were subsequently transferred to inpatient hallways. Demographic and clinical characteristics, as well as patient preferences, including items related to patient comfort and safety using a 5-point scale, were recorded and descriptive statistics were used to summarize the data.

Results: Of 110 patients contacted, 105 consented to participate. Mean age was 57 ± 16 years and 52% were female. All patients were initially boarded in the ED in a hallway before their transfer to an inpatient hallway bed. The overall preferred location after admission was the inpatient hallway in 85% (95% confidence interval 75-90) of respondents. In comparing ED vs. inpatient hallway boarding, the following percentages of respondents preferred inpatient boarding with regard to the following 8 items: rest, 85%; safety, 83%; confidentiality, 82%; treatment, 78%; comfort, 79%; quiet, 84%; staff availability, 84%; and privacy, 84%. For no item was there a preference for boarding in the ED.

Conclusions: Patients overwhelmingly preferred the inpatient hallway rather than the ED hallway when admitted to the hospital.

Keywords: boarding; crowding; emergency department; patient satisfaction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bed Occupancy
  • Crowding
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Admission*
  • Patient Preference / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States