A new GAO report on emergency department overcrowding concludes that emergency department crowding continues to occur in hospital emergency departments, with about one-fourth of hospitals reporting diverting ambulances at least once in 2006. Wait times in emergency department have increased nationally, and in some cases exceeded recommended time frames. Boarding of patients in the emergency department while awaiting transfer to an inpatient bed or another facility continues to be reported as a problem, but national data is limited. Based on articles and interviews, the GAO concludes that a lack of access to inpatient beds continues to be the main factor contributing to emergency department crowding.
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