Established and Novel Initiatives to Reduce Crowding in Emergency Departments
Hamedani, Azita G.
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CitationLiu, Shan W., Azita G. Hamedani, David F.M. Brown, Brent Asplin, and Carlos A. Camargo. 2013. Established and novel initiatives to reduce crowding in emergency departments. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine 14(2): 85-89.
AbstractIntroduction: The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Task Force on Boarding described high-impact initiatives to decrease crowding. Furthermore, some emergency departments (EDs) have implemented a novel initiative we term “vertical patient flow,” i.e. segmenting patients who can be safely evaluated, managed, admitted or discharged without occupying a traditional ED room. We sought to determine the degree that ACEP-identified high-impact initiatives for ED crowding and vertical patient flow have been implemented in academic EDs in the United States (U.S.). Methods: We surveyed the physician leadership of all U.S. academic EDs from March to May 2010 using a 2-minute online survey. Academic ED was defined by the primary site of an emergency residency program. Results: We had a response rate of 73% (106/145) and a completion rate of 71% (103/145). The most prevalent hospital-based initiative was inpatient discharge coordination (46% [47/103] of respondents) while the least fully initiated was surgical schedule smoothing (11% [11/103]). The most prevalent ED-based initiative was fast track (79% [81/103]) while the least initiated was physician triage (12% [12/103]). Vertical patient flow had been implemented in 29% (30/103) of responding EDs while an additional 41% (42/103) reported partial/in progress implementation. Conclusion: We found great variability in the extent academic EDs have implemented ACEP’s established high-impact ED crowding initiatives, yet most (70%) have adopted to some extent the novel initiative vertical patient flow. Future studies should examine barriers to implementing these crowding initiatives and how they affect outcomes such as patient safety, ED throughput and patient/provider satisfaction.
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