Meantime, the crowding continues. Citing a General Accountability Office report, ACEP has stated that emergency patients who need care within one to 14 minutes are not always seen that quickly. For some it takes as long as 37 minutes.
As physicians and healthcare leaders evaluate ED improvements, the trends study is instructive because it delves into the weeds of the past to identify the causes of some of today's overcrowding.
Too many clinical tests and boarding, a pair of issues that often swirl around ED overutilization debates, were among the topics targeted in the report by Stephen Pitts, MD, MPH of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, and Jesse M. Pines, MD, MBA, of the center for health care quality at the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington D.C.
Researchers found surprises in their evaluation of the data.
While imaging increased tremendously from 2001 through 2008, by 140%, routine tests had more of an overall impact on crowding in the ED, the physicians said in the report. Those tests included giving of intravenous fluids, blood tests, or other routine procedures.