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Providers urge Biden to tackle 'gridlocked' hospital EDs and life-threatening care delays

Thirty-three provider groups in the USA penned a joint letter to President Joe Biden this week warning of “gridlocked” hospital emergency departments that are threatening patients’ lives and the well-being of shorthanded healthcare workers.

“In recent months, hospital emergency departments (EDs) have been brought to a breaking point. Not from a novel problem—rather, from a decades-long, unresolved problem known as patient ‘boarding,’ where admitted patients are held in the ED when there are no inpatient beds available,” provider associations including the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and the American Medical Association (AMA) wrote. “While the causes of ED boarding are multifactorial, unprecedented and rising staffing shortages throughout the healthcare system have recently brought this issue to a crisis point.”

The issue of boarding “has become its own public health emergency” for adult and paediatric care alike, the latter of which is being driven by a spike in mental health visits and, more recently, a “triple threat” of flu, COVID-19 and respiratory illnesses that have backed up children’s hospitals.

“If the system is already this strained during our ‘new normal,’ how will emergency departments be able to cope with a sudden surge of patients from a natural disaster, school shooting, mass casualty traffic event or disease outbreak?” the groups wrote.

The letter included a handful of firsthand accounts solicited by ACEP from anonymous emergency physicians describing patients deteriorating or dying “during their tenth, eleventh or even twelfth hour of waiting to be seen by a physician.”

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Source: Fierce Healthcare, 10 November 2022


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