Emergency department crowding increases 10-day mortality for non-critical patients: a retrospective observational study

Anna Eidstø, Jari Ylä-Mattila, Jalmari Tuominen, Heini Huhtala, Ari Palomäki, Teemu Koivistoinen

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The current evidence suggests that higher levels of crowding in the Emergency Department (ED) have a negative impact on patient outcomes, including mortality. However, only limited data are available about the association between crowding and mortality, especially for patients discharged from the ED. The primary objective of this study was to establish the association between ED crowding and overall 10-day mortality for non-critical patients. The secondary objective was to perform a subgroup analysis of mortality risk separately for both admitted and discharged patients. An observational single-centre retrospective study was conducted in the Tampere University Hospital ED from January 2018 to February 2020. The ED Occupancy Ratio (EDOR) was used to describe the level of crowding and it was calculated both at patient’s arrival and at the maximum point during the stay in the ED. Age, gender, Emergency Medical Service transport, triage acuity, and shift were considered as confounding factors in the analyses. A total of 103,196 ED visits were included. The overall 10-day mortality rate was 1.0% (n = 1022). After controlling for confounding factors, the highest quartile of crowding was identified as an independent risk factor for 10-day mortality. The results were essentially similar whether using the EDOR at arrival (OR 1.31, 95% CI 1.07–1.61, p = 0.009) or the maximum EDOR (OR 1.27, 95% CI 1.04–1.56, p = 0.020). A more precise, mortality-associated threshold of crowding was identified at EDOR 0.9. The subgroup analysis did not yield any statistically significant findings. The risk for 10-day mortality increased among non-critical ED patients treated during the highest EDOR quartile.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Adverse patient outcome
  • Crowding
  • Emergency Department
  • Emergency Department occupancy ratio
  • Mortality

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine


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