Hospital overcrowding leaves patients boarding in ERs

July 26, 2019

Crowded hospitals are boarding patients in the ERs until they find a bed for them on a medical floor and the problem is getting worse, according to an article on the Greenville News website.

The growing problem is being fueled in part by the national shortage of doctors and nurses. But in the end, it boils down to supply and demand – too many patients for the available beds, Dr. Ryan Hoffman, medical director of emergency services at Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, said in the article.

According to the American Hospital Association, there are 6,210 hospitals across the nation with 931,203 total staffed beds to care for more than 36 million admissions a year.

"With all the construction and cranes across Greenville (S.C.), we have not seen a significant increase in the number of hospital beds in the area,” Hoffman said.

In a loud and busy ER, where nurses are constantly attending to new patients, it’s challenging to give the same level of time and attention to boarding patients that is provided in traditional inpatient units.

In addition to the shortage of staff and beds, the rise of antibiotic-resistant infections has also forced hospitals to isolate patients and perform decontamination processes, reducing the facilities' effective capacity.

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