Why build waiting rooms? For patients or providers?

Every emergency department has a waiting room that probably gets used more than any other room in the ED.

Did a patient group meet and declare they wanted waiting rooms?

Of course not.  Patients come to the ED to get help; not sit in a waiting room.

“Well, patients need to be able to wait somewhere before they get inside the ED.”


Why can’t we bring all the patients straight inside the ED?


Only someone painfully unaware of modern ED struggles could ask such a silly question.

“We don’t bring patients inside the ED because we don’t have enough resources to care for them.”

It’s all about stretchers and ratios.  We decide the ED is full when all our stretchers are full.  We decide the number of stretchers by how many nurses we have working based on a ratio of 4 stretchers to 1 nurse.

Stretchers and ratios keep everything neat and orderly inside the ED.

So, to maintain order inside the ED, we build waiting rooms to house all the patients that we don’t feel ready or able to help.  No matter how many patients pile up in the waiting room, we stick to our stretchers and ratios.

Providers want waiting rooms; waiting rooms benefit providers not patients.  Patients want to come straight inside the ED.

Why don’t we bring all patients inside?  What could be worse for patients than leaving them for hours in the waiting room?


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2 Replies to “Why build waiting rooms? For patients or providers?”

    1. Thanks for the kind comment!

      Let me know what we can add or change to make this site more useful.



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