Improving Patient Flow and Reducing Emergency Department Crowding: A Guide for Hospitals

This guide from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) presents step-by-step instructions to plan and implement patient flow improvement strategies to ease emergency department crowding.

Executive Summary

The Need to Address Emergency Department Crowding

Although you, as a hospital or department leader, are responsible for overseeing performance across a number of dimensions, there are several reasons why addressing emergency department (ED) crowding should be at the forefront of your organization’s improvement efforts:

  1. ED crowding compromises care quality.
  2. ED crowding is costly.
  3. Hospitals will soon report ED crowding measures to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
  4. ED crowding compromises community trust.
  5. ED crowding can be mitigated by improving patient flow throughout the hospital.

The purpose of this guide is to present step-by-step instructions for planning and implementing patient flow improvement strategies.