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Emergency department performances during overcrowding: the experience of the health protection agency of Brianza

1 Health Protection Agency of Brianza (Italy), Viale Elvezia n.2 Monza (MB) 20900
2 AREU−Urgency Emergency Regional Agency, Lombardy

Background: Hospital emergency departments (ED) can contribute to improve health outcomes and reduce costs of health care system. This study evaluated ED admissions during a twelve months period, analyzing characteristics of patients who underwent to emergency care in order to understand factors involved in ED overcrowding and promote adequate management. Methods: This retrospective study analyzed a twelve months window, with in-depth focus on December/January when almost all EDs reported overcrowding. All ED admissions were recorded in electronic schedules including: demographic characteristics, time/date of the access, incoming triage code, diagnosis, performed procedures, discharge, time/date of discharge. A backward multivariable logistic regression model was used to estimate relationships between investigated variables and ED pattern mortality. Results: A total of 416,299 ED admissions were analyzed. During the overcrowded period there was an increase in patients admissions (+32 patients per day, p = 0.0079) with a statistically significant rise of critical patients (+1.7% yellow codes and +0.7% red codes, p < 0.001) and older subjects (+1.4% patients aged 75 or more years, p < 0.001). Moreover, there were statistically significant increases in waiting times and in length of visits, a higher percentage of patients who were hospitalized (13.3% vs. 12.2%, p < 0.001), left ED (4.46% vs. 4.15%, p < 0.001) and died (0.27% vs. 0.17%, p < 0.0001). This latter result maintained a marginal statistical significance (OR = 1.16, 95% CI = 0.98–1.38, p = 0.075) after adjustment for confounding. Conclusion: Our study highlights that ED crowding can determine measurable worsening in ED services and patient outcomes as mortality, waiting times, lengths of stay, percentage of abandonment without being seen and, probably, costs. Thus, address ED crowding has to be considered an important public health priority requiring policymakers involvement.
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© 2018 the Author(s), licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

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