Improving Patient Flow and Reducing Emergency Department Crowding

A Guide for Hospitals

This guide presents step-by-step instructions that can be used by hospitals in planning and implementing patient flow improvement strategies to ease emergency department crowding.

By Megan McHugh, PhD, Kevin Van Dyke, MPP, Mark McClelland, MN, RN, Dina Moss, MPA. 


Executive Summary
Section 1. The Need to Address Emergency Department Crowding
Section 2. Forming a Patient Flow Team
Section 3. Measuring Emergency Department Performance
Section 4. Identifying Strategies
Section 5. Preparing to Launch
Section 6. Facilitating Change and Anticipating Challenges
Section 7. Sharing Results
Appendix A: Guide to Online Resources Successfully Used by Hospitals to Improve Patient Flow
Appendix B: Implementation Plan Template
Appendix C: Example Implementation Plan
Appendix D: Additional Readings

This document is in the public domain and may be used and reprinted without permission.

The opinions presented in this report are those of the authors, who are responsible for its content, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Page last reviewed October 2014
Internet Citation: Improving Patient Flow and Reducing Emergency Department Crowding: A Guide for Hospitals. October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.