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Clinical update

How to manage crowding in the emergency department

New guidance looks at the emergency care pathway and offers advice on how to tackle crowding

Royal College of Emergency Medicine guidance looks at the emergency care pathway and offers advice on how to tackle crowding

Picture: iStock

Essential information

Crowding is when the number of patients occupying the emergency department (ED) is beyond the capacity for which it was designed and resourced to manage at any one time, says the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM).

It is the most important problem facing EDs worldwide and is on the rise again in the UK, according to the college. Crowding potentially threatens the safety of patients, who may have increased mortality and poorer experiences of care; staff, who may experience burnout and more illness; and organisations, whose performance and reputation may be jeopardised.

Visible effects include ambulances queuing outside EDs,

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