The effect of emergency department crowding on patient satisfaction for admitted patients

Jesse M Pines, Sanjay Iyer, Maureen Disbot, Judd E Hollander, Frances S Shofer, Elizabeth M Datner
Academic Emergency Medicine 2008, 15 (9): 825-31

OBJECTIVES: The objective was to study the association between factors related to emergency department (ED) crowding and patient satisfaction.

METHODS: The authors performed a retrospective cohort study of all patients admitted through the ED who completed Press-Ganey patient satisfaction surveys over a 2-year period at a single academic center. Ordinal and binary logistic regression was used to study the association between validated ED crowding factors (such as hallway placement, waiting times, and boarding times) and patient satisfaction with both ED care and assessment of satisfaction with the overall hospitalization.

RESULTS: A total of 1,501 hospitalizations for 1,469 patients were studied. ED hallway use was broadly predictive of a lower likelihood of recommending the ED to others, lower overall ED satisfaction, and lower overall satisfaction with the hospitalization (p < 0.05). Prolonged ED boarding times and prolonged treatment times were also predictive of lower ED satisfaction and lower satisfaction with the overall hospitalization (p < 0.05). Measures of ED crowding and ED waiting times predicted ED satisfaction (p < 0.05), but were not predictive of satisfaction with the overall hospitalization.

CONCLUSIONS: A poor ED service experience as measured by ED hallway use and prolonged boarding time after admission are adversely associated with ED satisfaction and predict lower satisfaction with the entire hospitalization. Efforts to decrease ED boarding and crowding might improve patient satisfaction.

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