Why are we waiting? A study of the patients' perspectives about their protracted stays in an emergency department.

The overcrowding of Emergency Departments compromises their critical function and the safety of patients and staff. This study asked the patients how the wait in overcrowded conditions impacted on them and the care they received and what they believed the reasons for the overcrowding were. A prospective questionnaire based structured interview study was performed. Over half (57.7%) of patients felt that the lack of inpatient beds and wards was the main reason that they experienced delays. An overwhelming 85.9% felt that the Health Authorities were not doing enough to address the overcrowding issue. Overcrowding of Emergency Departments has been identified as a major problem the solution is to be found in increasing the capacity of the acute hospital system according to the majority of our study population.