ER Overcrowding: A Public Health Crisis!


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – First COVID, and this winter, add the respiratory virus RSV, and the flu. Emergency rooms across the country are bursting. ER overcrowding has been a health care problem for years, but now, health experts say it is reaching crisis levels. Here’s more on what that could mean for patients who need emergency treatment.

Imagine racing into your local emergency room and you wait not minutes, but hours to be seen, then E.R. doctors admit you to the hospital, but there are no beds at all.

Yale School of Medicine emergency room physician, Arjun Venkatesh, MD and his colleagues have documented widespread and increasing overcrowding. in a pair of newly published studies, the researchers looked first at the length of time patients waited in the E.R. before they were admitted.

(Read Full Interview)

“Those who come to the emergency department are evaluated, they rece.r. overcrowdingeive diagnostics and treatments, and then, they need inpatient hospitalization. They need to stay in the hospital and are waiting two, three, four, up to 12 and 24 hours for a bed in the hospital,” Dr. Venkatesh emphasizes.

Researchers say that wait time, called boarding time, is well above the national recommendation, which is no more than a four-hour wait. As a result, Dr. Venkatesh says one out of every 10 patients wind up walking out.

The researchers say a healthcare worker shortage is contributing to hospital overcrowding – leading to the longer ER wait times. Dr. Venkatesh says hospitals may need to rethink how they deliver healthcare.

“We have to figure out how to get people back to the bedside who have the training and the skills to do it. And maybe, we start using artificial intelligence, computer technologies, other tools that we have to do the back office work so that those people can be taking care of patients and be more effective at doing that,” he adds.

Earlier studies have found the emergency department overcrowding leads not only to treatment delays, but prolonged disease and death. For healthcare workers, overcrowding leads to higher doctor and nurse turnover, and higher burnout. And in a new study, published in December, researchers found that overworked E.R. doctors may be misdiagnosing patients coming through the doors.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

To receive a free weekly e-mail on medical breakthroughs from Ivanhoe, sign up at:


The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality




REPORT:       MB #5158

BACKGROUND: Nurse burnout is the state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion caused by sustained work-related stressors such as long hours, the pressure of quick decision-making, and the strain of caring for patients who may have poor outcomes. Nurse burnout has been a problem for years, but things took a turn for the worse in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 34% of LPNs and 35% of RNs responding to Medscape Nurse Career Satisfaction Report 2021 reported they felt burned out or very burned out.


DIAGNOSING: Nurse burnout is a very real problem, and it’s important to recognize the signs so you can address the issue. Otherwise, your job performance may suffer and your patients may not experience your normal level of care. Plus, if you leave burnout unchecked, your own personal life and health could suffer, too. Some signs of burnout include fatigue, dreading going to work, being insensitive, having overwhelming anxiety, and/or becoming sick often.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Emergency room overcrowding is one of the main contributors of nurse burnout. In a pair of new studies, Yale researchers document a widespread and increasing level of overcrowding in America’s emergency departments (EDs), a crisis that puts patient safety and access to care at risk. Their findings, they say, help characterize the bigger issues that underlie ED crowding. Their methods also yield more timely assessments of these key indicators, which historically have been hard to come by. Care at home under a hospital’s direction is a new model being evaluated now in small programs. Tent hospitals might be another option. These are usually constructed on hospital grounds but have also been erected in arenas. Such basic models could be morphed into permanent buildings that are cheaper and can be built more quickly than traditional hospitals.



Colleen Moriarty

(203) 376-4237

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Dr. Arjun Venkatesh, MD, Emergency Room Physician

Read the entire Q&A