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Can J Rural Med. 2014 Winter;19(1):12-20.

Is there a relation between emergency department and inpatient lengths of stay?

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School of Health Services Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ont.
School of Health Services Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ont., and Ross Memorial Hospital, Lindsay, Ont.
Ross Memorial Hospital, Lindsay, Ont.



Emergency departments (EDs) are key entry points to hospital care, and issues of overcrowding and poor patient flow have become a priority in Canada. Studies have sought to determine factors that influence ED wait times in an effort to improve patient flow. We sought to identify the impact of factors such as patient age, triage level, comorbid factor level and sex to determine their effects on length of stay (LOS) and the role that they play in the ED and in an inpatient setting.


We analyzed 2 years of data from 2007 to 2009. We conducted a repeated-measures analysis of variance to measure the effects of age, triage level, comorbid level and sex as they relate to ED and inpatient LOS.


Our analysis resulted in a final sample of 4743 patient visits. A longer LOS in the ED was correlated with a longer inpatient LOS. Age, comorbidity level and sex were shown to have an influence on LOS.


Continued efforts to further reduce ED LOS are crucial, because this has the potential to influence outcomes, efficiency of EDs and succession to inpatient status, which may affect costs to the health care system. Patient-specific factors need to be considered when formulating and refining policies and processes to improve patient flow.

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