Study: Practice Intensity Drives Increased ED Crowding

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Increased practice intensity — such as increased use of advanced imaging and more frequent blood testing — may be contributing to an increase in emergency department crowding, according to a study in Annals of Emergency Medicine (pdf).

Researchers studied data from the annual National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys from 2001 to 2008. They found the number of ED visits increased by 1.9 percent each year — 60 percent faster than the rate of population growth, according to the study. Moreover, mean occupancy, or crowding, increased 3.1 percent annually from 2001 to 2008.

During the same time period, advanced imaging use increased 140 percent. Other factors, such as the use of intravenous fluids and blood tests, the performance of any clinical procedure and the mention of two or more medications, were associated with greater occupancy. Advanced imaging and these other factors combined were defined as practice intensity. The authors concluded that practice intensity is the top driver of increased ED occupancy.

More Articles on ED Utilization:

Study: ED Length of Stay Associated With Number of Admissions, Discharges
Study: Consumer-Driven Health Plans Linked to Reduced Utilization, Costs

Study: Patients' Perceptions, Providers' Availability May Hinder Proper ED Utilization

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