Emergency department crowding and older patients: a nationwide retrospective cohort study

B. Schouten, H. Merten, Mnt Kremers, M. van Greuningen, C. Wagner, Pwb Nanayakkara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objective: Emergency department (ED) crowding is a worldwide problem and one of the main causes internationally is an increase in presentations by older patients with complex and chronic care needs. Although there has been a 4,3% reduction in total ED visits from 2016-2019 in the Netherlands, the EDs still experience crowding. National crowding research has not focused on the older group in detail, hence their possible role remains ill defined. The primary aim of this study was to map the trend in ED visits by older patients in the Netherlands. The secondary aim was to identify healthcare utilization 30 days before/after ED visit. Methods: We conducted a nationwide retrospective cohort study, using longitudinal health insurance claims data (2016-2019). The data encompasses all Dutch patients of 70 years or older who visited the ED. Results: The number of older patients who visited the ED followed by admission, increased from 231,223 patients (2016), to 234,817 (2019). The number without admission also increased from 244,814 patients, to 274,984. There were 696,005 total visits by older patients (2016) increasing to 730,358 visits (2019). Conclusion: The slight rise in older patients at the ED is consistent with overall population growth of older people in the Netherlands. These results indicate that Dutch ED crowding cannot be explained by mere numbers of older patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-82
Number of pages11
JournalAcute Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • acute care
  • aged
  • healthcare system
  • longitudinal data
  • overcrowding

Cite this