The Impact of Emergency Department Overcrowding: Effect on Nursing Professional Practice and Patient Care
Emergency departments (ED) are essential as they offer immediate medical and surgical care to acutely ill or traumatic injury patients. Overcrowding at the ED can cause the nursing team to be overwhelmed, thus compromising patient care quality and negatively affecting treatment outcomes. Ideally, nurses should exhibit competency and offer quality input in their line of duty to avoid medical and medication errors that can be fatal. To achieve this, hospitals should have adequate staffing levels to ensure all departments, including the ED, have enough nurses to handle the patient influx. However, even with proper staffing levels for nurses, the ED can experience overcrowding that potentially leads to increased incidences of medication errors, nurses’ burnout, and mortality due to impaired emergency response.
First, patient numbers beyond the maximum capacity can precipitate confusion and mix-up during treatment due to the pressure on the nurses to deliver timely care to every patient. A study by Schroers et al. identified contextual factors that included frequent distractions, excessive workloads, inappropriate working conditions, and job-related pressure as the most frequently identified causes of medication errors (2020). When nurse-to-patient ratios decrease, the effect is a chaotic environment with more patients demanding attention. This situation can lead to medication errors that include a patient receiving the wrong medication, improper drug administration, or nurses administering the wrong dosage. As a result, ED overcrowding can impact nurses’ professional practice by presenting all the above contextual factors affecting patient care.
Secondly, the workload during overcrowding in the ED translates to increased fatigue among nurses. Burnout is a chronic job-related danger within the ED that affects many physicians and nurses alike (Schneider et al., 2019). Essentially, nurses’ burnout leads to suboptimal patient care. It is associated with mental exhaustion that impairs performance, lethargy that reduces their reaction time, and subsequent psychosocial pressure from perceived lack of support. Hence, burnout among nurses is hazardous to patient safety and compromises the care provider’s well-being. All the effects of burnout affect professionalism among nurses and threaten patient safety.
Lastly, overcrowding can impair emergency response when ambulance diversion is initiated at a congested ED, leading to increased mortality of critical care patients. Ambulance diversions are ineffectual and contribute to patient harm due to delayed care (Kelen et al., 2021). Notably, it denies patients timely interventions of their medical conditions, causing avoidable fatalities. The significant distress meted out on these patients during the long travels to alternative ED centers disproportionately increase morbidity and mortality rates. Moreover, when diversion occurs, the ambulances are not immediately available for other patients who may urgently require such services. In turn, more fatalities may arise from one diversion case.
In conclusion, ED overcrowding is a danger to patient safety and negatively affects nurses’ professional practice through the resulting workload. Hospitals should have well-structured action plans to protect patients and nurses from ED overcrowding. Therefore, investing in robust patient management systems at the ED and effective communication with ambulance services could reduce overcrowding and its consequences. Again, enacting favorable health policies that enable continuous and sustainable funding to hospitals for ED expansion and staffing can greatly improve the healthcare system.
Kelen, G.D., Wolfe, R., D’Onofrio, G., Mills, A.M., Diercks, D., Stern, S.A.,…Sokolove, PE (2021). Emergency department crowding: The canary in the health care system. Innovations in Care Delivery Journal, 3(1), 1-26. https://catalyst.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/CAT.21.0217
Schneider, A., Wehler, M. & Weigl, M. (2019). Effects of work conditions on provider mental well-being and quality of care: A mixed-methods intervention study in the emergency department. BMC Emergency Medicine, 19(1), 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12873-018-0218-x
Schroers, G., Ross, J.G., & Moriarty, H. (2020). Nurses’ perceived causes of medication administration errors: A qualitative systematic review. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, 47(1), 38-53. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcjq.2020.09.010
Why Choose Us
High Quality, 100% Original and Well-Researched Papers
HireProWriter always ensure that our writers follow all your instructions precisely. You can pick your academic level: high school, college/university or professional, and we will assign a writer who much your field or discipline.
Professional and Experienced Academic Writers
Our Company has a team of professional writers with experience in business articles and academic papers. The majority are native speakers and capable to tackle any task for which you need assistance.
Free Unlimited Revisions
Do you think we missed something on your paper? No worries, send your order for a free revision. We give you up to 10 days to submit the order for review after you have received the final document. You can do this yourself after logging in to your account or get help from our support.
Prompt Delivery and 100% Money-Back-Guarantee
All papers are always delivered on time. In case we need an extension to master your paper, we will contact you on time regarding the deadline extension. In case you cannot provide us with more time, a 100% refund is guaranteed.
Original & Confidential
100% Plagiarism free work! We use premium writing tools to check plagiarism. Our professional editors carefully review all quotations in the text. Besides, we guarantee maximum confidentiality in all of our services.
Customer Support 24/7
Our support team is available 24/7. We are dedicated to giving the best customer experience. Feel free to get in touch any time for assistance.
Try it now!
How it works?
Follow these simple steps to get your paper done
Place your order
Fill in the order form and provide all details of your assignment.
Proceed with the payment
Choose the payment system that suits you most.
Receive the final file
Once your paper is ready, we will email it to you.
Why work on your paper all night? While you can sleep tight, as we cover you back. HireProWriter offer all kinds of writing services.
No matter what kind of academic assistance you need and how urgent you need it, you are welcome to choose your academic level and the type of your paper at a reasonable cost. HireProWriter take care of all your academic paper needs with a 24/7 customer care support system.
Admission and Business Papers
An admission essay is an essay or other written statement by a candidate, often a potential student enrolling in a college, university, or graduate school. You don't have to worry about writing a presentable College admission essay, You can be rest assurred that through our services we will write the best admission essay for you.
Editing and Proofreading
Our Team (academic writers and editors) make the necessary adjustments to your essay/paper so that it is polished. Besides, we format your document by correctly quoting the sources and creating reference lists in the formats APA, Harvard, MLA, Chicago / Turabian.
We value our clients feedback, our system is designed to ensure that we deliver quality work through collaboration of our team and clients. In case you need an improvement in your paper, you are free to request for revision. For such case, your paper will be checked by the writer or assigned to an editor. Your Satisfaction is our Concern!