I am a Masters Student in the Health Systems Institute, and I received my undergrad degree from GT in Biomedical Engineering. I love to read, travel, and talk and learn about environmental issues... particularly love this site: treehugger
From working and observing at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, I think that when a patient first comes i they register, are sorted and may go through to a fast track area. Or they may go to a central waiting room. Then they see a nurse, are placed in a patient room, and eventually a doctor arrives to see them. They may need to leave for lab or radiology tests. They are not always admitted and may sometimes be discharged directly after being initially evaluated.
Today I learned that in the ED there is a delay not only because of a possible increase in patients, but also because patients cannot move from ED beds to beds in other units since those units may also be full. This just keeps pushing the problem farther back. Since such a variety of patients come to the ED, I wonder how much more intensive and longer the training is for ED doctors than those in other specialties.