Prevalence of crowding, boarding and staffing levels in Swedish emergency departments - A National Cross Sectional Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Emergency Department (ED) crowding occurs when demand for care exceeds the available resources. Crowding has been associated with decreased quality of care and increased mortality, but the prevalence on a national level is unknown in most countries. Method: We performed a national, cross-sectional study on staffing levels, staff workload, occupancy rate and patients waiting for an in-hospital bed (boarding) at five time points during 24 h in Swedish EDs. Results: Complete data were collected from 37 (51% of all) EDs in Sweden. High occupancy rate indicated crowding at 12 hospitals (37.5%) at 31 out of 170 (18.2%) time points. Mean workload (measured on a scale from 1, no workload to 6, very high workload) was moderate at 2.65 (±1.25). Boarding was more prevalent in academic EDs than rural EDs (median 3 vs 0). There were an average of 2.6, 4.6 and 3.2 patients per registered nurse, enrolled nurse and physician, respectively. Conclusion: ED crowding based on occupancy rate was prevalent on a national level in Sweden and comparable with international data. Staff workload, boarding and patient to staff ratios were generally lower than previously described.


External organisations
  • Region Östergötland
  • Linköping University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Anesthesiology and Intensive Care


  • Boarding, Crowding, Emergency department
Original languageEnglish
Article number50
JournalBMC Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun 18
Publication categoryResearch