Hospitals Ease ED Crowding With Hall Beds

Patient Bed in HallwayEven though hospitals have been trying for decades to eliminate the practice of temporarily parking patients on stretchers in corridors, a recent study at Stony Brook University Medical Center in Stony Brook, New York, found that no harm was caused by moving emergency patients to upper-floor nursing unit hallways when they were ready for admission. It may not sound like the ideal healthcare setting, but the study’s lead author is urging hospital officials nationwide to consider hallway medicine as a way to ease emergency department crowding.

Holding patients in the ED can cause deaths, doctors say. In a 2007 survey of nearly 1,500 emergency doctors by the American College of Emergency Physicians, 13 percent said they personally experienced a patient dying as a result of boarding in the emergency department. The new study is based on four years of Stony Brook’s experience with more than 2,000 patients admitted to nursing unit hallways from the ED. The study concluded that the common practice of boarding patients in the ED after they have been admitted creates an out of sight, out of mind situation. Once the patients are moved to the nursing unit corridors, nursing staff get a lot more creative and aggressive with workflow practices.

Source: “Hospitals Ease ER Crowding With Ward Beds in Halls” by Carla K. Johnson, Yahoo! News, October 27, 2008.