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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Central Venous Catheter Adverse Events Are not Associated with Crowding Indicators

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Objective: Crowding in the emergency department (ED) impacts a number of important quality and safety metrics. We studied ED crowding measures associated with adverse events (AE) resulting from central venous catheters (CVC) inserted in the ED, as well as the relationship between crowding and the frequency of CVC insertions in an ED cohort admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).

Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational study from 2008–2010 in an academic tertiary care center. Participants undergoing CVC in the ED or admitted to an ICU were categorized by quartile based on the following: National Emergency Department Overcrowding Scale (NEDOCS); waiting room patients (WR); ED patients awaiting inpatient beds (boarders); and ED occupancy (EDO). Main outcomes were the occurrence of an AE during CVC insertion in the ED, and deferred procedures assessed by frequency of CVC insertions in ED patients admitted to the ICU.

Results: Of 2,284 ED patients who had a CVC inserted, 293 (13%) suffered an AE. There was no association between AEs from ED CVCs and crowding scales when comparing the highest crowding level or quartile to all other quartiles: NEDOCS (dangerous crowding [13.1%] vs other levels [13.0%], P = 0.98); number of WR patients (14.0% vs 12.7%, P = 0.81); EDO (13.0% vs 12.9%, P = 0.99); and number of boarding patients (12.0% vs 13.3%), P = 0.21). In a cohort of ED patients admitted to the ICU, there was no association between CVC placement rates in the ED and crowding scales comparing the highest vs all other quartiles: NEDOCS (dangerous crowding 16% vs all others 16%, P = 0.97); WR patients (16% vs 16%, P = 0.82), EDO (15% vs. 17%, P = 0.15); and number of boarding patients (17% vs 16%, P = 0.08).

Conclusion: In a large, academic tertiary-care center, frequency of CVC insertion in the ED and related AEs were not associated with measures of crowding. These findings add to the evidence that the negative effects of crowding, which impact all ED patients and measures of ED performance, are less likely to impair the delivery of prioritized time-critical interventions.

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