A new report by HIQA has found Ireland's health system is under 'unprecedented strain'.
Inspections of seven emergency departments found the number of patients presenting to EDs is 'significantly higher' than in previous years.
The Health Information and Quality Authority found that at the extreme end one patient was waiting 116 hours for a bed. But it said that it was not uncommon to find patients waiting between 80-90 hours for a bed.
Responding to the report, HIQA's Director of Healthcare, Sean Egan says the inspections continue to highlight overcrowding in emergency departments compromises the dignity and respect of patients and poses a risk to their health and safety.
The health watchdog says more hospitals need to be urgently built in order to provide additional capacity for both acute and community.
HIQA is also recommending a more effective approach to workforce planning to better anticipate and manage staff shortages, as well as more responsive leadership, governance and management arrangements.