- Background In the emergency department (ED) critically-ill medical patients are treated in the resuscitation room (RR). No studies described the outcomes of critically-ill RR patients admitted to a hospital with low capacity of intensive care unit (ICU) beds. Methods We included all medical patients above 18 who were admitted to a RR of a tertiary hospital during 2011–2012. We conducted multivariate logistic and Cox regressions and propensity score (PS) matched analysis to analyze parameters associated with the study outcomes. Results In-hospital mortality rate was 32.4% in ICU admitted patients compared to 52.0% of the non-ICU critically-ill patients (p < 0.001). Age above 80, female and recent ED encounters were associated with non-ICU admissions (p < 0.05 for all). ICU admission had a statistically significant effect on in-hospital mortality in PS matched analysis (OR 0.36, 95% CI 0.21–0.61). A marginal effect was evident in one-year survival in PS matched landmark analysis (HR 0.50 95% CI 0.23–1.06). Conclusion ED critically-ill medical patients who were treated in the RR had high mortality rates in an institute with restricted ICU beds availability. However, those who were admitted to an ICU showed prolonged short and perhaps long term survival compared to those who were not.