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Objectives: This study tested the reliability and validity of the Western Canada Waiting List Project priority criteria score (PCS) for prioritizing patients waiting for hip and knee arthroplasty.
Methods: Sixteen orthopedic surgeons assessed 233 consecutive patients at consultation for hip or knee arthroplasty. Measures included the PCS, a visual analogue scale of urgency (VAS urgency), and maximum acceptable waiting time (MAWT). Patients completed a VAS urgency, an MAWT, the Western Ontario McMaster Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), and the EQ-5D. Using correlational analysis, convergent and discriminant validity was assessed between similar constructs in the priority criteria and WOMAC. Median MAWTs were determined for five levels of urgency based on PCS percentiles. Internal consistency reliability was assessed with Cronbach's alpha.
Results: The sample of 233 patients (62 percent female) ranged in age from 18 to 89 years (mean, 66.3 years). A total of 45 percent were booked for hip and 55 percent for knee arthroplasty. Correlations were strong between the PCS and surgeon VAS urgency (r=.79) and weaker between patient and surgeon measures of VAS urgency (r=.24) and MAWT (r=.44). Correlation coefficients between similar constructs in the priority criteria and WOMAC ranged from 0.24 to 0.32 and were higher than those measuring dissimilar constructs. For decreasing levels of urgency, the median MAWT ranged from 10 to 12 weeks for surgeons and 4 to 12 weeks for patients. Cronbach's alpha was 0.79.
Conclusions: Results support the validity of the PCS as a measure of surgeon-rated urgency. Patients might be ranked differently with different prioritization measures.
To determine the perceptions of health care professionals and service providers with regard to emergency department (ED) overcrowding, including definitions of overcrowding, characteristics of an overcrowded ED, and causes of overcrowding, and secondarily to solicit potential solutions to the problem.
Focus groups were conducted with front-line staff, physicians and managers from 7 EDs within an integrated health region. Participants received questions before the sessions, and an experienced moderator conducted the sessions and prepared transcripts from audio tapes. Analyses included identification of key themes and the interrelationships between those themes.
Focus group participants defined service pressures that result in overcrowding as “anything that impedes the flow of patients through the ED, affects the quality of care delivered or results in patient frustration and stress to staff.” Overcrowding, which can occur at any time of the day, was perceived to have many causes, including some seasonal factors. Two key problems were identified as causing many spin-off pressures: inefficient access to ED beds (stretchers) because of slow throughput of patients and staff shortages. Other perceived causes included the changing role and use of EDs and limited access to services such as home care, diagnostic imaging, laboratory services, social services and specialist care. Participants generally believed that the characteristics and causes of overcrowding could not be viewed independently; rather, in the search for remedies, they should be considered as interrelated variables.
Qualitative studies of this complex issue can identify and describe complex interactions in real-world settings. The findings of such studies can lead to quantitative studies involving objective measurement.
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