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P117: A pilot program of physician at triage conducted at a tertiary care hospital improved measures of emergency department throughput and provides a potential solution for emergency department overcrowding

  • J. D. Powell (a1), A. Hughes (a1), R. Scott (a1), N. Balfour (a1), G. McInnes (a1), D. Karogiannis (a1), J. Hebert (a1), J. Cabral (a1), D. Fasick (a1), D. Harris (a1) and M. Ertel (a1)...

Abstract

Introduction: Emergency Department Overcrowding (EDOC) is a multifactorial issue that leads to Access Block for patients needing emergency care. Identified as a national problem, patients presenting to a Canadian Emergency Department (ED) at a time of overcrowding have higher rates of admission to hospital and increased seven-day mortality. Using the well accepted input-throughput-output model to study EDOC, current research has focused on throughput as a measure of patient flow, reported as ED length of stay (LOS). In fact, ED LOS and ED beds occupied by inpatients are two “extremely important indicators of EDOC identified by a 2005 survey of Canadian ED directors. One proposed solution to improve ED throughput is to utilize a physician at triage (PAT) to rapidly assess newly arriving patients. In 2017, a pilot PAT program was trialed at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH), a tertiary care hospital, as part of a PDSA cycle. The aim was to mitigate EDOC by improving ED throughput by the end of 2018, to meet the national targets for ED LOS suggested in the 2013 CAEP position statement. Methods: During the fiscal periods 1-6 (April 1 to September 7, 2017) a PAT shift occurred daily from 1000-2200, over four long weekends. ED LOS, time to inpatient bed, time to physician initial assessment (PIA), number of British Columbia Ambulance Service (BCAS) offload delays, and number of patients who left without being seen (LWBS) were extracted from an administrative database. Results were retrospectively analyzed and compared to data from 1000-2200 of non-PAT trial days during the trial periods. Results: Median ED LOS decreased from 3.8 to 3.4 hours for high-acuity patients (CTAS 1-3), from 2.1 to 1.8 hours for low-acuity patients (CTAS 4-5), and from 9.3 to 8.0 hours for all admitted patients. During PAT trial weekends, there was a decrease in the average time to PIA by 65% (from 73 to 26 minutes for CTAS 2-5), average number of daily BCAS offload delays by 39% (from 2.3 to 1.4 delays per day), and number of patients who LWBS from 2.4% to 1.7%. Conclusion: The implementation of PAT was associated with improvements in all five measures of ED throughput, providing a potential solution for EDOC at KGH. ED LOS was reduced compared to non-PAT control days, successfully meeting the suggested national targets. PAT could improve efficiency, resulting in the ability to see more patients in the ED, and increase the quality and safety of ED practice. Next, we hope to prospectively evaluate PAT, continuing to analyze these process measures, perform a cost-benefit analysis, and formally assess ED staff and patient perceptions of the program.

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Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 1481-8035
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-emergency-medicine
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