The COVID-19 Crisis in the US Emergency Rooms

It is hard to disagree that the coronavirus pandemic has brought stress, chaos, problems, and many new obstacles to an extended number of industries and fields. Since healthcare must be at the center of the fight against the causes and consequences of COVID-19, medical facilities and departments are facing increased challenges. For example, many sources claim that healthcare providers need to introduce new measures and interventions to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus on patients in America’s emergency rooms. The purpose of this paper is to explore different solutions proposed by recent studies.

The reason why special attention should be paid to emergency rooms is the number of patients visiting them daily and the growing risk of getting infected. According to Hartnett et al. (2020), many persons tend to delay emergency care during this pandemic, and their deteriorating state can pose a more serious danger to other patients in the department. The authors are certain that adherence to CDC recommendations about infection control should be continued (Hartnett et al., 2020). Every new visitor must be immediately screened for fever and COVID-19 symptoms, and patients with and without these signs have to be placed in different well-ventilated triage areas. Some other researchers also find these measures vital and additionally insist on providing nurses and patients with special education and training about the spread of coronavirus, personal protective equipment, symptoms, and avoidance of self-treatment (Emergency Physicians, n.d.). The virus will spread slower if more ED nurses and visitors are aware of this information.

Moreover, it is hard to disagree that fewer visitors in the emergency rooms leads to fewer persons getting infected. Hartnett et al. (2020) state that “expanded access to triage telephone lines that help persons rapidly decide whether they need to go to an ED” is required (p. 703). As for medical workers, they have to strictly adhere to preventive and self-protection measures, wear the needed equipment, and disinfect all the areas in their facility and especially emergency rooms (Emergency Physicians, n.d.). Indeed, the human factor can lead to severe errors and irreparable consequences, so all medical staff must strictly comply with virus prevention measures.

Further, some additional and more practical interventions are offered in other peer-reviewed articles. For instance, according to Whiteside et al. (2020), “ED directors should engage hospital leadership immediately to expand inpatient capacity, canceling elective surgeries and adding ICU and negative pressure rooms” (p. 1449). Further, they believe that it is safer if “providers and nurses are assigned specific rooms and automatically assigned patients who arrive in these rooms,” and medical staff’s shirts are longer to reduce turnover (Whiteside et al., 2020, p. 1450). Then, Leiker and Wise (2020) and Quah et al. (2020) highlight the need to limit the movement of patients through the hospital. What is more, it is beneficial to ensure that nurses and other medical workers have as little physical contact with COVID-19 patients as possible. In other words, when physical assessment is not required, nurses can use iPads and cell phones to communicate.

To draw a conclusion, one may say that all the outlined measures and interventions are possible to be introduced in emergency rooms. These recommendations do not require increased financial spending but can be rather useful in addressing the identified issue. Noticeably, these interventions are aimed at the use of equipment and sanitation tools, behaviors and education of medical workers and patients, adherence to CDC guidelines, and reorganization of physical space. Therefore, such a comprehensive approach can ensure a reduction in infection rates in America’s emergency rooms.


Emergency Physicians. (n.d.). How ERs are adapting to keep communities safe during COVID-19. Web.

Hartnett, K. P., Kite-Powell, A., DeVies, J., Coletta, M. A., Boehmer, T. K., Adjemian, J., & Gundlapalli, A. V. (2020). Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on emergency department visits – United States, January 1, 2019–May 30, 2020. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 69(23), 699-704. Web.

Leiker, B., & Wise, K. (2020). COVID–19 case study in emergency medicine preparedness and response: From personal protective equipment to delivery of care. Disease-a-Month, 66(9), 1-27. Web.

Quah, L. J. J., Tan, B. K. K., Fua, T. P., Wee, C. P. J., Lim, C. S., Nadarajan, G., Zakaria, N. D., Chan, S. E. J., Wan, P. W., Teo, L. T., Chua, Y. Y., Wong, E., & Venkataraman, A. (2020). Reorganizing the emergency department to manage the COVID-19 outbreak. International Journal of Emergency Medicine, 13(32). Web.

Whiteside, T., Kane, E., Aljohani, B., Alsamman, M., & Pourmand, A. (2020). Redesigning emergency department operations amidst a viral pandemic. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 38(7), 1448–1453.

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