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Waiting Room

Poll: Many Americans Delay Emergency Care Over Boarding Concerns

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

A recently released poll conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) revealed 43% of U.S. adults would delay or avoid seeking medical care at an emergency department (ED) over fears of boarding.

Among more than 2,000 respondents, 44% said they or a loved one have experienced long waits in an ED before admission or transfer. Of those, 16% said the wait was 13 hours or longer.

“Boarding in the emergency department is a national public health crisis,” said Aisha Terry, MD, MPH, FACEP, president-elect of ACEP. “There’s no question these excessive delays are harmful to patients waiting to be transferred and those waiting to be seen. It should alarm regulators, policymakers, and health system leaders that people would delay or avoid emergency care and risk their health because of these systemic hospital bottlenecks.”

A plurality of survey respondents (42%) suggested hospitals should be the ones to fix this problem, by hiring more bedside nurses so patients do not need to wait so long to be admitted after their ED visit. Others placed the responsibility, variously, on Congress, insurance companies, nursing homes/psychiatric facilities, and even directly on patients themselves.

Last year, more than two dozen medical associations and advocacy groups sent a letter to the White House asking the Biden administration to convene a summit to find solutions to the boarding problem. Last month, ACEP hosted such a gathering, during which stakeholders proposed ideas to help solve this problem.

In the upcoming December issue of ED Management, authors Dorothy Brooks and Stacey Kusterbeck will report deeper on this subject. Brooks will write about the ACEP national summit, and Kusterbeck will detail the related risk implications for EDs and report practical solutions to help alleviate such risk.

For more on this and related subjects, be sure to read the latest issues of Critical Care Alert, Emergency Medicine Reports, and Pediatric Emergency Medicine Reports.