Hospital emergency departments are reaching a “breaking point” as they deal with a flood of patients waiting for beds that are not available, a group of medical organizations warned in a letter sent to President Joe Biden, The Hill has reported.
Staffing shortages have brought to a “crisis point” the keeping of admitted patients in emergency departments due to lack of space elsewhere in the hospital, an issue known as "boarding," according to the groups, which include the American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association.
They said that the crisis, which has not been properly tended to for decades, is causing an “exodus of excellent physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals.”
“Our nation’s safety net is on the verge of breaking beyond repair; EDs are gridlocked and overwhelmed with patients waiting — waiting to be seen; waiting for admission to an inpatient bed in the hospital; waiting to be transferred to psychiatric, skilled nursing, or other specialized facilities; or, waiting simply to return to their nursing home,” the groups said in their letter to Biden.
“Health care professionals experiencing burnout have a much higher tendency to retire early or stop practicing all together," the letter cautioned, according to The Hill. "This increases the loss of skilled health care professionals in the workforce and adds more strain to those still practicing, which continues the cycle of burnout within the profession.”
The warning by the medical groups stressed that the patients who need inpatient care but are instead kept in emergency rooms are often subject to delays and suffer from increased mortality.
The resulting overloaded emergency rooms also lead to delays in care, such as for patients with mental health issues and to ambulances that are left stuck at hospitals due to a lack of beds within the actual facility, The Hill reported.
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