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A brewing storm: Our overwhelmed emergency departments

  • Darren P. Mareiniss
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author at: 100 Lancefield Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21209, United States.
    Affiliations
    Georgetown University School of Medicine, United States
    Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, United States
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Published:November 03, 2016DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajem.2016.10.079
      There is a growing national healthcare crisis that most Emergency Medicine physicians are acutely aware of, yet the general public seems oblivious to. Our emergency departments (EDs) are being overwhelmed by massive patient volumes nearing untenable levels. Back in 2006, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) warned us of this in a report titled “Hospital-Based Emergency Care: At the Breaking Point.” In that ten-year old report, the IOM noted that EDs were already overwhelmed and that our patient visits per year were significantly increasing [
      Institute of Medicine. Hospital-based emergency care: at the breaking point.
      ]. The report stated that patient visits from 1993–2003 had grown from 90.3 million per year to 113.9 million per year [
      Institute of Medicine. Hospital-based emergency care: at the breaking point.
      ]. Also, the number of EDs had actually decreased and the patients being seen were reportedly sicker [
      Institute of Medicine. Hospital-based emergency care: at the breaking point.
      ]. Disaster preparedness was a significant concern and the report noted that most city hospitals were operating at or near capacity and even a multiple car crash would create havoc in most of these EDs [
      Institute of Medicine. Hospital-based emergency care: at the breaking point.
      ]. In the years since that report, our volumes have continued to climb.
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