Patients Would Prefer Ward to Emergency Department Boarding While Awaiting an Inpatient Bed

Paul Walsh, Valarie Cortez, Himanshu Bhakta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


Boarding of admitted patients in the Emergency Department (ED), rather than in inpatient care areas, is widespread. We surveyed boarded patients, patients without a disposition, and visitors at a county hospital ED serving a mixed urban and rural population. Subjects were asked "If you needed to be admitted to the hospital but no inpatient bed is available, would you prefer to be kept in an ER hallway or a hallway on an inpatient ward?" Boarded patients said they would prefer ward to ED boarding, 117/213 (54.9%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 48.0%-61.7%). Patients without a disposition 314/477 (65.8%; 95% CI 61.4%-70.0%) and visitors 370/532 (69.5%; 95% CI 65.4%-73.4%) stated a preference for ward boarding in 314/477 (65.8%; 95% CI 61.4%-70.0%) and in 370/532 (69.5%; 95% CI 65.4%-73.4%), respectively. Common reasons for preferring inpatient ward boarding were privacy concerns and reduced noise levels. Those preferring ED boarding valued easy access to a doctor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-226
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes



  • boarding
  • Emergency Department
  • overcrowding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

Cite this