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High volume days stress the system, resulting in longer average length of stay, increased variation, increased “left without being seen” (LWBS), and lower provider and patient satisfaction. The chart below shows the impact that high volume days have on a typical mid-sized emergency department length of stay:
Emergency department crowding creates a serious patient safety issue. In a large study involving over 100 hospitals and a million emergency encounters, the mortality of patients admitted during times of emergency department crowding was 5% higher than the rate for those admitted when the department was not crowded.
Once this concept is fully understood and appreciated, the path to improving the patient experience can be mapped out and achieved.