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EM-Day video 2023

27 May 2023

Press Release: Are Emergency Departments unsafe? Patients and professionals think so

25 May 2023

Emergency departments (EDs) are currently unsafe places for both professionals and patients, according to the results of an international survey carried out for the European Society of Emergency Medicine (EUSEM) and published today (26th  May) in the European Journal of Emergency Medicine1. The main reasons for this are staff shortages and overcrowding due to the non-availability of beds in wards necessitating the provision of care in corridors. Respondents to the survey also felt that they had insufficient support from hospital management. Read more 

Around 90% of professionals surveyed felt that at times the number of patients in ED exceeded the capacity of the department to provide safe care, and that such overcrowding was a regular problem. In addition to causing patient and professional discomfort and impeding their ability to provide care, overcrowding is known to carry a substantial risk of harm and increased mortality.

The preliminary findings of a survey among patients, yet to be published, were even more alarming. More patients thought that ED staff were ‘angry’ or ‘rude’ than were kind. This is likely to be caused by exhaustion and frustration, says an accompanying editorial2 from EUSEM President Dr James Connolly ‘given that the vast majority of those responding to the survey of professionals said that they were proud to work in an ED.’ Amongst responses received a typical response was “There were a lot of patients and very few doctors. Some nurses were very stressed.”

Indeed, nurses who responded to the survey felt less safe than did doctors, particularly with regards to the environment in which they had to treat patients with mental health problems. Since in general they work with patients for longer periods of time, this is understandable, but nonetheless troubling, say the researchers.

“Last year’s EUSEM survey into burnout among ED professionals was worrying enough,” says Dr Connolly, “showing as it did that younger and less experienced EM professionals were more likely to be affected than older, more experienced staff. It is very disquieting to see this pattern repeated, and completely unacceptable that so little action has been taken to remedy it. If anything, the situation appears to be worse than before.” This is especially important, as In many EDs the majority of professionals are still junior and therefore at greater risk of burnout, and so in greater need of supervision to protect both themselves and their patients.

Although targets have been advantageous in bringing about  improvements in the past, the current feedback from ED staff shows that, when systems are under significant strain, they feel pressurised by the imposition of such external targets, and that they believe this could cause patient care to suffer. Some 54.2% said they were permanently under external pressure. Support from hospital management was also perceived to be inadequate; 35% of professional responders responding that hospital managers never supported the introduction of improvements, and 47% thinking that procedures for improving flow in the ED were never effective.

Alarmingly, some patients surveyed felt so concerned about their safety in the ED that they said they would prefer not to go there at all, believing that overcrowding, long waiting times, and exhausted staff would lead to medical errors.

“Dedicated professionals need the right environment and support in which to carry out their work, and patients need to feel reassured that they will get the best treatment. Currently we are far from that being the case. Governments and healthcare authorities must remedy this now, before the situation worsens further when it may become too late to arrest the spiral of decline,” says Dr Connolly.

1. https://journals.lww.com/euro-emergencymed/Abstract/9900/Patient_safety_in_emergency_departments__a_problem.63.aspx 
DOI 10.1097/MEJ.0000000000001044

2. https://journals.lww.com/euro-emergencymed/Citation/9900/With_safety_in_mind.64.aspx
DOI 10.1097/MEJ.0000000000001048

Further information:

Davi Kaur

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mobile: +32 485515497

Publications in the European Journal of Emergency Medicine

26 May 2023

For EM-Day 2023 we conducted 3 surveys about safety, for patients/general public, for professionals and for patient organisations. 

The results are shared in a paper, written by Roberta Petrino, Eeva Tuunainen, Giulia Bruzzone, and Luis Garcia-Castrillo, published in the European Journal of Emergency Medicine, also an editorial was published, written by EUSEM president, Jim Connollly. Please find a link to each publication:

Paper: Patient safety in emergency departments: a problem for health care systems? An international survey

Editorial: With safety in mind

Ambulance response times worst on record as A&E waits hit new highs

25 February 2023

Ambulance response times in England were the worst on record across all major categories in December, while people waiting 12 hours or more to be admitted to A&E reached an all-time high.

The average response time for people requiring an ambulance for a stroke, severe burns or chest pain was 93 minutes, five times the operation target of 18 minutes.

Read more


26 January 2023

On the occasion of the Emergency Medicine Day that will take place on 27 May, we want to discuss and draw the attention of the media and politicians to the question of safety and quality in hospital emergency departments (EDs).

In order to do this we are collecting the points of view of emergency department professionals, patient organisations, and patients.

Recently there have been many reports in the general media of critical problems related to ED overcrowding, long waiting times and the increasing burnout of personnel. This situation may become really dangerous, and therefore we feel it is necessary to provide hard data in order to attract attention.

As patients’ organisations we are asking your board, or a representative of it, to respond to this short survey and provide us with information about your views and feelings on this issue.
Confident in the understanding of your organisation of the importance of this issue, we thank you for your collaboration.


The results of these surveys will be published on the EM day and will be circulated to media and politicians.

Click the link or scan the QR code

QR code S6C3X5F 1


The surveys will close on the 27th February

If your organisation has a network of patients and/or other relevant stakeholders, please help us in disseminating the surveys for the different targetgroups so we can get as many responses as possible.
Survey for patients: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MBF58DR
Survey for patient organisations: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/S6C3X5F
Survey for EM professionals: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JC3HHMW


26 January 2023

On the 27th of May it's Emergency Medicine Day. EUSEM, the European Society for Emergency Medicine, started with this campaign, because there's a lack of staff and resources in the emergency departments (EDs), and a lack of recognition of the importance of a well established emergency care system.

This years campaign is dedicated to patient and professional safety. When a ED is understaffed or the professionals are on the brink of burnout, you can imagine they can't provide the care that a patient needs.

This is really a threat to the health care system in many countries.


We strongly believe it is of the utmost importance that we can provide concrete data to the relevant stakeholders to reflect our distress and how this can threaten the safety of both patients as professionals.

We invite you to respond to this five-minute survey and provide us with information about your experience in the ED as patient or the accompanying person of a patient if you or someone in your family has used the ED in the past year.

In parallel to this survey we are sending a questionnaire to patients’ organisation and to professionals, with the hope that the results of the three surveys will describe the situation in an unequivocal way.

The results of these surveys will be published on the EM day and will be circulated to media and politicians.

Click the link or scan the QR code.

PLEASE NOTE: there are several languages available in the upper right corner.

QR code MBF58DR