October 5, 2023

New Poll: Alarming Number of Patients Would Avoid Emergency Care Because of Boarding Concerns

A just released ACEP/Morning Consult poll reveals that nearly half (43%) of U.S. adults would delay or avoid emergency care out of concerns associated with boarding in the emergency department.

“Boarding in the emergency department is a national public health crisis,” said Aisha Terry, MD, MPH, FACEP, president-elect of ACEP. “There’s no question these excessive delays are harmful to patients waiting to be transferred and those waiting to be seen. It should alarm regulators, policymakers, and health system leaders that people would delay or avoid emergency care and risk their health because of these systemic hospital bottlenecks.”

Additional key findings from the poll include:

  • Nearly half (44%) of U.S. adults indicate that they, or a loved one, have experienced prolonged waits after being seen in the emergency department before being admitted or transferred. Of those, 16% said the wait was 13 hours or more.
  • There is strong support for supplemental funding for emergency care. Nearly all adults (93%) agree that emergency medical services are essential and 89% favor making additional government funding a priority to support emergency departments, paramedics, and emergency medical services.

The public poll is the latest piece of our comprehensive advocacy campaign in support of legislation and policy solutions to help address this multifactorial crisis.

In September, ACEP convened a national summit of stakeholders across health care including representatives from hospitals, nursing homes, EMS, federal and state policymakers, patient groups, and mental health clinicians. Over a 5-hour session, the group shared concerns and began to identify collaborative opportunities for immediate and longer-term solutions.

ACEP outlined the dangers of boarding in a November 2022 letter to the White House, gathered more than 140 troubling stories directly from emergency physicians on the frontlines, and continues to support a broad range of efforts to address the root causes of the crisis.


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