Patient Care

Patients Prefer Inpatient Boarding to Emergency Department Boarding


Clinical question: Do patients who experience overcrowding and long waits in the emergency department (ED) prefer boarding within ED hallways or within inpatient medical unit hallways?

Background: Boarding of admitted patients in EDs can be problematic, especially with regard to patient safety and patient satisfaction. Patient satisfaction data comparing boarding in the ED versus boarding in an inpatient unit hallway is limited.

Study design: Post-discharge, structured, telephone satisfaction survey.

Setting: Suburban, university-based teaching hospital.

Synopsis: A group of patients who experienced hallway boarding in the ED and then hallway boarding on the inpatient medical unit were identified. They were contacted by phone and asked to take a survey on their experience; 105 of 110 patients identified agreed. Patients were asked to rate their location preference with regard to various aspects of care. A five-point Likert scale consisting of the following answers was used: ED hallway much better, ED hallway better, no preference, inpatient hallway better, and inpatient hallway much better.

The inpatient hallway was the overall preferred location in 85% of respondents. Respondents preferred inpatient boarding with regard to multiple other parameters: rest, 85%; safety, 83%; confidentiality, 82%; treatment, 78%; comfort, 79%; quiet, 84%; staff availability, 84%; and privacy, 84%. For no item was there a preference for boarding in the ED.

Patient demographics in this hospital may differ from other settings and should be considered when applying the results. With Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems scores and ED throughput being publicly reported, further studies in this area would be valuable.

Bottom line: In a post-discharge telephone survey, patients preferred boarding in inpatient unit hallways rather than boarding in the ED.

Citation: Viccellio P, Zito JA, Sayage V, et al. Patients overwhelmingly prefer inpatient boarding to emergency department boarding. J Emerg Med. 2013;45(6):942-946.

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