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Access block: it’s all about available beds

Daniel M Fatovich, Geoff Hughes and Sally M McCarthy
Med J Aust 2009; 190 (7): 362-363.
Published online: 6 April 2009

We need more inpatient beds and better management of existing beds

The inability to admit emergency patients to a ward bed in a timely fashion (access block) is a blight on our hospitals and our community. Access block is the most serious issue confronting emergency departments (EDs), as the safety and quality of emergency care are compromised, as is access to emergency care.1 There is a 20%–30% excess mortality rate every year attributable to access block and ED overcrowding.2 This equates to at least 80 deaths per million population, a figure that is similar to the road toll.2

  • Daniel M Fatovich1
  • Geoff Hughes2
  • Sally M McCarthy3,4

  • 1 Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA.
  • 2 Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, SA.
  • 3 Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, NSW.
  • 4 Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, Melbourne, VIC.


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