Skip to main content

The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians says the primary reason for overcrowding is due to ER patients who need admission being unable to access hospital beds.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

A doctors' group is calling for national benchmarks aimed at shortening wait times for patients seeking care in hospital emergency departments.

The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) says contrary to popular belief, emergency room overcrowding is not caused by inappropriate use or by patients without their own doctors.

The organization says the primary reason for overcrowding is due to ER patients who need admission being unable to access hospital beds.

Story continues below advertisement

CAEP says "access block" can be caused by an inadequate number of acute-care beds or beds taken up by patients waiting for transfer to community facilities.

It wants national ER wait-time benchmarks established and hospitals' performance in reaching those targets publicly reported.

The group says ER overcrowding is a public-health emergency that results in worse outcomes for patients, including higher death rates.

In 2009, Canada had only 1.7 acute-care beds per 1,000 Canadians, ranking 33rd out of 34 Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development countries, says the CAEP position paper released Wednesday. The OECD average was 3.4 per 1,000.

"The lack of acute-care beds in Canada means that most hospitals frequently operate at unsustainable occupancy rates of higher than 95 per cent, a level at which regular bed shortages, periodic bed crises, and hospital overcrowding are inevitable," the CAEP writes.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies