A new program to streamline registration and expedite care can cut emergency room wait times by nearly a half hour, reducing the number of patients who risk further health problems by leaving without treatment, according to a new study.
Researchers said an urban emergency department was able to decrease patients' wait times by an average of 24 minutes and average length of stay in the department by 31 minutes by implementing a program called ED REACT, or Rapid Entry and Accelerated Care at Triage. The program streamlines the registration process, improves triage and begins tests and interventions before patients are placed in ER beds.
Long wait times, a common complaint about emergency departments, often prompt patients to leave without seeing a physician. Surveys have shown that as many as 7% of the nation's emergency departments have "leave-without-being-seen" rates higher than 5%, with some reporting rates as high as 15%, the study shows.
"Patients who leave emergency departments before they are seen by a physician represent a failure in the healthcare safety net," said Theodore Chan, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at the San Diego Medical Center and lead author of the study published online today by the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
He said patients who leave the ER before being seen by medical personnel are "most likely to return to the emergency department later and in worse condition."