Opinion: Emergency Rooms Shouldn’t Be Parking Lots For Patients

From NPR:

So even though we’re seeing more patients in fewer hospitals, limited capacity may not be the primary issue. It’s that we’re using existing capacity inefficiently.

A 2012 review identified inefficiency rather than insufficient beds as the root cause of boarding. Other sources of inefficiency include restricting certain beds to certain specialties, skeleton staffing during nights and weekends and poor discharge planning.

The silver lining is that efforts to improve efficiency are much less expensive than building a new hospital wing. Smoothing out surgical scheduling, for one, has been shown to yield major improvements.