An analysis of US hospitals finds that, compared with the least busy, the busiest emergency departments give the best chance of surviving, especially to patients whose condition is life-threatening.

In the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine, researchers from the University of Michigan (U-M) Medical School report the first national, broad-based analysis of the link between the volume of emergency patients that hospitals treat and the chance those patients will survive their hospital stay.

They discovered that how many patients are admitted to an emergency department (ED) in a year makes a difference to the chances of those patients surviving their stay – especially for the sickest patients.

Overall, emergency patients had a 10% lower chance of dying if they went to one of the busiest EDs than if they went to one of the least busy.