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Open Access Publications from the University of California

SurgeCon: Priming a Community Emergency Department for Patient Flow Management

  • Author(s): Patey, Christopher;
  • Norman, Paul;
  • Araee, Mehdee;
  • Asghari, Shabnam;
  • Heeley, Thomas;
  • Boyd, Sarah;
  • Hurley, Oliver;
  • Aubrey-Bassler, Kris
  • et al.

Introduction: Canadian emergency departments (ED) are struggling to provide timely emergency care. Very few studies have assessed attempts to improve ED patient flow in the rural context. We assessed the impact of SurgeCon, an ED patient-management protocol, on total patient visits, patients who left without being seen (LWBS), length of stay for departed patients (LOSDep), and physician initial assessment time (PIA) in a rural community hospital ED.

Methods: We implemented a set of commonly used methods for increasing ED efficiency with an innovative approach over 45 months. Our intervention involved seven parts comprised of an external review, Lean training, fast track implementation, patient-centeredness approach, door-to-doctor approach, performance reporting, and an action-based surge capacity protocol. We measured key performance indicators including total patient visits (count), PIA (minutes), LWBS (percentage), and LOSDep (minutes) before and after the SurgeCon intervention. We also performed an interrupted time series (ITS) analysis.

Results: During the study period, 80,709 people visited the ED. PIA decreased from 104.3 (±9.9) minutes to 42.2 (±8.1) minutes, LOSDep decreased from 199.4 (±16.8) minutes to 134.4(±14.5) minutes, and LWBS decreased from 12.1% (±2.2) to 4.6% (±1.7) despite a 25.7% increase in patient volume between pre-intervention and post-intervention stages. The ITS analysis revealed a significant level change in PIA – 19.8 minutes (p<0.01), and LWBS – 3.8% (0.02), respectively. The change over time decreased by 2.7 minutes/month (p< 0.001), 3.0 minutes/month (p<0.001) and 0.4%/month (p<0.001) for PIA, LOSDep, and LWBS, after the intervention.

Conclusion: SurgeCon improved the key wait-time metrics in a rural ED in a country where average wait times continue to rise. The SurgeCon platform has the potential to improve ED efficiency in community hospitals with limited resources.

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