20 June 2016

67% of patients wait 8 hours or longer to be treated in Australian emergency departments

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Overcrowding and bed shortages in hospitals are costing lives. A snapshot of Australia’s emergency departments found more than a third of patients will be waiting to be transferred to a ward, even waiting up to 24 hours to be treated. The biannual survey conducted by researchers from the Australian National University show that no improvements in waiting times, in fact, they’re getting worse.

The build-up of patients waiting in emergency departments to be admitted into a ward is called access block and according to Australian doctors, this is proving fatal for some patients.

Assoc. Prof Drew Richardson from Australian National University “Two third of patients waiting for beds have already been waiting in emergency departments more than 8 hours.”

“We had 44 patients from 17 different hospitals that had been waiting for 24 hours or more,” he said.

Dr Peter Jones from Auckland City Hospital “Patients admitted through emergency departments at times where the hospital has access blocked, 20 to 30% more likely to die within 10 days of that admission” said Dr Jones.

The latest data shows one third of patients waiting in emergency will wait to be transferred to a ward and the problem has worsened since its similar study in May last year. It’s a common and reoccurring problem. In 2008, an estimated 1500 Australians died needlessly because of access block and overcrowding.

Prof Richardson said the goal of patients being seen, treated and discharged within 4 hours is still a long way to go.


The movement of patients through a hospital is critical to enable timely access to safe and efficient patient care for producing optimal patient outcomes. Akolade’s timely Patient Flow in Emergency Departments Forum will assist in developing innovative patient-centred models to improve patient’s outcomes and care delivery. 

The best part of my job as a Conference Production Manager is to create and manage my own conferences from concept to delivery, identify future conference topics as well as giving me a chance to expand my business card collection. Having a bit of a sweet tooth, you will always find me having lollies on my desk or you will catch me browsing on fashion sites during lunch breaks.

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