Emergency Department Characteristics and Capabilities in Quito, Ecuador

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Annals of Global Health


Background: Emergency care is an essential part of a health system. Ecuador has recognized emergency medicine as a specialty and has two emergency medicine residency training programs. However, little has been published about emergency department characteristics and capabilities in Ecuador. Objective: We described the characteristics and capabilities of emergency departments (EDs) in Quito, Ecuador, in 2017, using the National Emergency Department Inventory (NEDI) survey. Methods: The 23-item survey included questions pertaining to ED characteristics, including: visit volume, physical and administrative structure, clinical capabilities, technological resources, and consult personnel availability. This study included all EDs in Quito operating 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, and serving all patients seeking care. One representative from each ED was asked to complete the survey based on calendar year 2017. Findings: Thirty EDs met the inclusion criteria, and 26 completed the survey (87% response). The median number of ED beds was 17 (range 2–61). Median annual visit volume was 22,580 (range 1,680 to 129,676). All but two EDs provided care for both children and adults. Cardiac monitors were available in 88% of EDs, CT scanners in 68%, and rooms for respiratory isolation in 31%. Most EDs could manage patients with general medicine (92%), general surgery (92%), and gynecology (88%) emergencies 24/7. Fewer were able to provide hand surgery (45%) and dental (28%) care 24/7. Typical length of stay was 1–6 hours in 65% and >6 hours in 31% of EDs. Half of EDs reported operating at full capacity and 27% reported operating over their capacity. When compared to private EDs, government EDs (public and social security) had a higher mean number of visits per year (50,090 government vs. 13,968 private, p < 0.001), higher mean number of ED beds (36 government vs. 9 private, p = 0.002), and higher length of stay (58% of patient stays > 6 hours in government EDs vs. 86% of patient stays 1–6 hours in private EDs, p = 0.009). Conclusions: EDs in Quito varied widely with respect to annual visit volume, ability to treat different pathologies 24/7, and resources. Most EDs are functioning at or over capacity, and a substantial number have long lengths of stay. Further research and investment in emergency care could help increase the capacity and efficiency of EDs in Ecuador.

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Ubiquity Press [Commercial Publisher]