Paediatric emergency department overcrowding and adverse patient outcomes

Melissa Chan, Garth Meckler, Quynh Doan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: General emergency department crowding negatively impacts patient care, and increases patient morbidity. Objectives: This study seeks to determine if markers of paediatric emergency department (PED) flow are independently associated with negative outcomes and increased health care utilization. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of PED visits from 2008 to 2012. Data were pulled from an electronic administrative database. Using multivariate logistic regression models, we measured the association between odds of adverse outcomes (hospital/paediatric intensive care unit [PICU] admission, unscheduled return visits and mortality) with markers of PED flow (shift mean length of stay [LOS] and daily rate of patients leaving without being seen [LWBS]). Results: We found an association between the daily LWBS proportion and the odds of being admitted to the hospital (odds ratio [OR]: 2.1; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.2, 3.7), as well as admission to the PICU (OR: 8.9; 95% CI: 1.1, 71.3). We found a statistically significant increase in the odds of admission if seen during shifts in the third or fourth quartile mean shift LOS. We observed lower odds of returning to the PED with increased daily LWBS proportions (OR: 0.4; 95% CI: 0.2, 0.7), but found no association between the odds of returning to the PED and mean shift LOS. Conclusion: While we found an association between our pre-defined measures of adverse outcomes and markers of PED flow (or crowding), further studies are needed to determine whether PED overcrowding is the cause or effect of increased hospital and PICU admissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-381
Number of pages5
JournalPaediatrics and Child Health (Canada)
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Crowding
  • Emergency
  • Paediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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