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Pediatric Patients Less Likely to Get Efficient, Urgent Care in Crowded ERs

Crowded hospital emergency departments can make it less likely for children suffering acute long bone fractures to receive timely and effective use of pain medication, according to a new study by the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

For their study, researchers studied 1,229 children treated in the emergency department of an academic children's hospital over a one-year period. They found ED crowding at the 90th percentile (compared to the 10th percentile) can lower the likelihood of timely treatment by as much as 47 percent and raise the likelihood of non-treatment by as much as 17 percent.

Although the reasons for ED overcrowding may vary, the authors suggested various tactics for mitigating the problem such as hiring more personnel and establishing incentives for patients to seek care at their own physician's office and disincentives for non-emergency use of emergency departments.

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