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Med Care Res Rev. 2012 Dec;69(6):679-98. doi: 10.1177/1077558712457426. Epub 2012 Aug 23.

A mixed-methods study of the quality of care provided to patients boarding in the emergency department: comparing emergency department and inpatient responsibility models.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Zero Emerson, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Concern exists regarding care patients receive while boarding (staying in the emergency department [ED] after a decision to admit has been made). This exploratory study compares care for such ED patients under "Inpatient Responsibility" (IPR) and "ED Responsibility" (EDR) models using mixed methods. The authors abstracted quantitative data from 1,431 patient charts for ED patients admitted to two academic hospitals in 2004-2005 and interviewed 10 providers for qualitative data. The authors compared delays using logistic regression and used provider interviews to explore reasons for quantitative findings. EDR patients had more delays to receiving home medications over the first 26 hours of admission but fewer while boarding; EDR patients had fewer delayed cardiac enzymes checks. Interviews revealed that culture, resource prioritization, and systems issues made care for boarded patients challenging. A theoretically better responsibility model may not deliver better care to boarded patients because of cultural, resource prioritization, and systems issues.

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