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Crowding and delivery of healthcare in emergency departments: the European perspective.

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Emergency department (ED) crowding is a multifactorial problem, resulting in increased ED waiting times, decreased patient satisfaction and deleterious domino effects on the entire hospital. Although difficult to define and once limited to anecdotal evidence, crowding is receiving more attention as attempts are made to quantify the problem objectively. It is a worldwide phenomenon with regional influences, as exemplified when analyzing the problem in Europe compared to that of the United States. In both regions, an aging population, limited hospital resources, staff shortages and delayed ancillary services are key contributors; however, because the structure of healthcare differs from country to country, varying influences affect the issue of crowding. The approach to healthcare delivery as a right of all people, as opposed to a free market commodity, depends on governmental organization and appropriation of funds. Thus, public funding directly influences potential crowding factors, such as number of hospital beds, community care facilities, and staffing. Ultimately ED crowding is a universal problem with distinctly regional root causes; thus, any approach to address the problem must be tailored to regional influences.

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