The following is a summary of “Emergency Department Hallway Care From the Millennium to the Pandemic: A Clear and Present Danger” published in the October 2022 issue of Emergency Medicine by Richards et al.

Overcrowding in emergency departments (EDs) and care provided in corridors has been major issue for the past 3 decades, both domestically and internationally. The development of this problem has remained the same despite the abundance of articles identifying it and providing solutions. Reasons for ED congestion, the effects of the recent COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, potential solutions, and why little has changed despite broad knowledge will be discussed. Patient care and boarding of admitted patients in ED hallways with inadequate resources has been a public health issue for the past 3 decades due to ED overpopulation. 

In many cases, the quality of care provided is inadequate, and the recipients’ safety is at risk. The emergency department (ED) safety net was already stretched thin in certain cities when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The situation has worsened even though it has been identified, studies have been published, and numerous solutions have been proposed. The financial and legal risks of not addressing viable solutions like inpatient hallway boarding, the availability of flexible expansion care spaces, the smoothing of elective admissions/surgeries, and efficient inpatient discharge flow must be made known to corporate and hospital leadership. 

Local, state, and federal laws may be necessary to kickstart this endeavor. If hospital administration is unwilling to address the issue on all levels of the hospital, including by listening to ED staff complaints and implementing previously offered remedies, ED crowding and hallway care will continue to worsen. There should be no fear of retaliation against emergency physicians who raise concerns about the possibility of negative patient outcomes and low morale among ED staff if they raise these concerns.