Critical Path Network

ACEP proposes plan to increase ED capacity

David C. Seaberg, MD, a board member of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), has proposed a 10-point plan to increase capacity, alleviate overcrowding, and improve surge capacity in the nation’s emergency departments (ED).

Among other proposals, the plan suggests changing the way hospitals are funded to allow for inpatient and intensive care unit surge capacity; requiring hospitals severely affected by a natural or other disaster to postpone elective admissions until the crisis abates, while compensating them for lost revenue; and providing federal and state funding to compensate hospitals and EDs for the unreimbursed costs of meeting their critical public health and safety net roles.

Seaberg’s plan was part of Feb. 8 testimony before a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing on pandemic flu preparedness.

"Without sufficient warning, emergency physicians and nurses would be unprepared to place arriving avian flu patients in isolation until it was too late," he told the hearing, titled "Protecting the Homeland: Fighting Pandemic Flu From the Front Lines." "Since most hospitals only have one isolation unit, there would be no way to isolate the next avian flu patient seeking emergency care," he said.

(Editor’s note: To access the entire 10-point plan, go to www.acep.org. Under "Breaking News," click: "ACEP Presents 10-Point Plan for Avoiding Mass Casualties in Pandemic Flu, Other Disasters.")