An Analysis of Daily Emergency Department Surge and its Relevance to Disaster Preparedness

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Community and Family Medicine., King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia

2 Department of Aviation Security, Military University of Aviation, 08521 Dęblin, Poland;

3 Department of Information Systems and Business Analytics, College of Business, Florida International University, Miami, 33199 FL, USA

4 Division of Disaster Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA.

5 Department of Emergency Medicine, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia

6 Department of Emergency Medical Services, Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz College Emergency Medical Services, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia

7 Department of Accident and Trauma, Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz College for Emergency Medical Ser-vices, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia


Introduction: Daily emergency department surges can cause crowding in facilities that do not have adequate physical and personnel resources to meet peak demands. The mismatch between surge and surge capacity results in ED crowding, thus indicating compromised daily ED capacity. This study aimed to analyze the daily ED visits and the relevance of this data in disaster preparedness at the Qassim hospital in Saudi Arabia.
Methods: This retrospective analytic study was conducted in the central hospitals of Buraidah City, including King Fahad Specialist Hospital (KFSH), Buraidah Central Hospital (BCH), and Maternity and Children’s Hospital (MCH) in Saudi Arabia. Data were collected from January 2017 to December 2018 using a specially designed data collection form. ED visit information such as visits per month, and per day, were collected.
Results: During the study period, 311805 patients visited the King Fahad Specialist Hospital ED, 131071 patients visited the Maternity and Children’s Hospital ED, and 284693 patients visited the Buraida Central Hospital ED. The highest number of visits per month in 2017 was recorded at KFSH with 18,849 patients, while in 2018, it was at BCH with 11,983 patients. The mean number of ED visits per day and month was significantly different between the three hospitals in 2017 and 2018 (P <.001). A significant association was noted between visits per time of day and hospitals in 2018 (P <.0001).
Conclusion: This study suggests that overcrowding investigated during the selected period occurred less in 2018 compared to 2017 in KFSH due to a strict triage initiative. However, the problem of patient overcrowding in MCH and BCH still needs to be addressed.


Volume 27, Issue 1
January and February 2022
Pages 371-379
  • Receive Date: 12 August 2021
  • Revise Date: 28 September 2021
  • Accept Date: 30 August 2021