PAMED Addresses Emergency Department Overcrowding
Earlier this year, the Board of Trustees created a task force to address the issue of emergency department (ED) overcrowding in Pennsylvania. Led by President-Elect, Kristen Sandel, MD, the task force issued a letter to Governor Shapiro, urging him to address this issue at a state level.
Emergency Department (ED) overcrowding is a dire problem facing rural and metropolitan communities across Pennsylvania. The issues leading to overcrowding are multifactorial and result in more patients presenting in the emergency department than the health care staff can accommodate.
The primary cause of ED overcrowding is “boarding”, the practice of holding patients in the emergency department after they have been admitted to the hospital, because no inpatient beds are available. Boarding is a decades long, unresolved problem that was only brought to its brink during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has become its own public health emergency which has negatively impacted healthcare systems, patients, and the community at large.
Emergency physicians, care teams and staff continue to do all they can to treat and stabilize every patient that needs care in Pennsylvania. ED overcrowding has led to high rates of clinician and nurse turnover and high rates of burnout. Physicians should be able to focus on what they do best, which is giving every patient in Pennsylvania quality health care.