5 tips to reduce hospital crowding, per the AAP

The American Academy of Pediatrics created five recommendations to reduce emergency department crowding and improve patient safety.

Before 2022, the number of pediatric patients seeking care rose, and research showed 80 percent of pediatric emergency department visits occurred in non-children's hospitals, according to a Feb. 20 news release from the organization. Boarding, or holding a patient in the emergency department, is believed to be one of the primary contributors to crowding, according to the release.

The new policy, titled "Crowding in the Emergency Department: Challenges and Recommendations for the Care of Children," offers ways for emergency departments across all systems to reduce crowding through coordinated efforts.

"There is really no single approach to avoid crowding in the emergency department," Toni Gross, MD, lead author of the policy statement, said in the release. "There are steps hospitals and healthcare systems can take to reduce crowding. It's also ideal to help families avoid emergency department visits by making it easier for them to access preventive care and manage chronic conditions, including mental health disorders, at an outpatient office."

The AAP recommends:

  1. Integrating mental health care into primary care pediatrics, including models for payment.

  2. Supporting accessible outpatient resources for seeking care.

  3. Advocating for incentives for extended or nontraditional hours of outpatient service, and efforts to coordinate care that include school- and community-based programs.

  4. Extending access to medical care through telemedicine services.

  5. Encouraging and assisting families with enrollment for healthcare coverage and advocating to reduce barriers to enrollment in healthcare coverage.

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