Overcrowding is a serious problem in healthcare systems all around the world. In particular, Emergency Departments, which, by definition, deal with acute and unscheduled patients, are more susceptible to overcrowding. Even the parts of the world with developed hospital systems suffer from ED overcrowding, the burden is heavier in the developing world. Emergency department crowding is a significant barrier that prevents patients from receiving adequate and timely care.
Researchers of this field and policymakers had recognized the importance of the problem for ages, but COVID-19 pandemic highlighted it once again. Asplin et al’s conceptual model, published in Annals of Emergency Medicine in August 2003, continues to be relevant today and helps all stakeholders of emergency care -researchers, policymakers and administrators alike- to come up with sounding solutions. According to this conceptual model (See figure below) causes of ED overcrowding is divided into 3 independent components, namely, input causes, throughput causes and output causes.
At different times, multiple components occur to some extent in all acute care centres. This conceptual model provides an overview of overcrowding causes so that administrators may review what’s failing and develop more efficient emergency department operations and policies. Subsequently, it will help to reduce ED crowding. Also, learning how ED, as a workplace, works on an organizational level has the potential to increase medical graduates’ interest in research and policymaking, thus, feedback on system design from diverse stakeholders.
- Asplin BR, Magid DJ, Rhodes KV, Solberg LI, Lurie N, Camargo CA Jr. A conceptual model of emergency department crowding. Ann Emerg Med. 2003;42(2):173‐180. doi:10.1067/mem.2003.302