Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
 CDC Home Search Health Topics A-Z

CDC Media Relations
Media Home | Contact Us
US Department of Health and Human Services logo and link

Media Relations Links
• About Us
• Media Contact
• Frequently Asked Questions
• Media Site Map

CDC News
• Press Release Library
• Transcripts
• MMWR Summaries
• B-Roll Footage
• Upcoming Events

Related Links
• Centers at CDC
• Data and Statistics
• Health Topics A-Z
• Image Library
• Publications, Software and Other Products
• Global Health Odyssey
Find your state or local health department
HHS News
National Health Observances
Visit the FirstGov Web Site
Div. of Media Relations
1600 Clifton Road
MS D-14
Atlanta, GA 30333
(404) 639-3286
Fax (404) 639-7394

Media Brief

For Release
September 27, 2006

National Center for
Health Statistics
Office of Communication,
Phone: (301) 458-4800

Almost Half of Hospitals Experience Crowded Emergency Departments

Between 40 percent and 50 percent of U.S. hospitals experience crowded conditions in the emergency department (ED) with almost two-thirds of metropolitan EDs experiencing crowding at times, according to a new report issued today by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The report, entitled “Staffing, Capacity, and Ambulance Diversion in Emergency Departments: United States, 2003-04,” contains a number of findings, including:

  • An average of 4,500 EDs were in operation in United States during 2003 and 2004.
  • Crowding in metropolitan EDs was associated with a higher percentage of nursing vacancies, higher patient volume, and longer patient waiting and treatment durations.
  • Over half the EDs saw fewer than 20,000 patients annually but one out of 10 had an annual visit volume of more than 50,000 patients.
  • Most EDs used outside contracts to provide physicians (64.7 percent).
  • Half of EDs in metropolitan areas had more than 5 percent of their nursing positions vacant.
  • Approximately one-third of U.S. hospitals reported having to divert an ambulance to another emergency department due to overcrowding or staffing shortages at their ED.

The full report can be viewed at



Media Home Page | Accessibility | Privacy Policy | Contact Us
CDC Home | Search | Health Topics A-Z

This page last updated November 9, 2006

United States Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Office of Communication
Division of Media Relations