Causes of Prolonged Emergency Department Stay; a Cross-sectional Action Research

  • Roya Esmaeili Department of Emergency Medicine, Imam Khomeini Hospital Complex, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
  • Seyed-Mojtaba Aghili Department of Emergency Medicine, Imam Khomeini Hospital Complex, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  • Mojtaba Sedaghat Community Medicine Department, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
  • Mohammad Afzalimoghaddam Department of Emergency Medicine, Imam Khomeini Hospital Complex, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
Emergency service, hospital, Health services research, Hospital bed capacity, Length of stay


Introduction: Based on the existing standards, patients presenting to emergency department (ED) should receive a decision in a maximum of 6 hours after admission to ED and leave ED in this time. Unfortunately, most of the time, especially in general and referral hospitals, we witness patients staying in the ED for hours or even days after a decision has been made. Objective: the present study was performed with the aim of evaluating the causes of patients’ prolonged length of stay in ED of one of the major hospitals in Tehran, Iran. Method: The present cross-sectional action research was carried out in the ED of Imam Khomeini Hospital, Tehran, Iran, in November and December 2016. The studied population consisted of patients who stayed in ED for more than 12 hours. In a panel consist of specialists, semi-structured and open questions were asked from the participants. All the interviews were recorded and converted to text. Effective factors of staying more than 12 hours in ED mentioned by the interviewees were extracted. A checklist of evaluating the causes of more than 12 hours stay in ED was prepared. In the next stage, by daily visit to the ED of the studied hospital, profile of the patients who had stayed in the ED for more than 12 hours was evaluated and the variables determined in the checklist were assessed. Results: In the present study, 407 patients with the mean age of 54.07±20.18 years (minimum 1 and maximum 113 years) were studied, 270 (65.7%) of which were male. Respectively, 26 (6.4%) were admitted in triage level 1, 203 (49.9%) in triage level 2, 168 (41.3%) in triage level 3, 9 (2.2%) in triage level 4 and 1 (0.2%) in triage level 5. Based on these findings, “services not wanting to transfer patients with decisions to the service” was the most common factor. Conclusion: In the present study, specialized services not tending to dislocate the patients that have been decided upon to their respective department, a considerable number of complicated patients and patients with advanced underlying illnesses among those presenting to ED, and shortage of beds in specialized departments and ICU, were the most common causes affecting more than 12 hours stay of patients in the studied ED.


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How to Cite
Esmaeili R, Aghili S-M, Sedaghat M, Afzalimoghaddam M. Causes of Prolonged Emergency Department Stay; a Cross-sectional Action Research. Adv J Emerg Med. 2(2):e18.
Original article

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