Hospital emergency room overcrowding can delay the time it takes for patients with community-acquired pneumonia to receive antibiotics, according to two studies to be published in the November edition of the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
In one study, researchers found that 44% of the 694 patients studied from January 2003 to April 2005 received antibiotics within four hours, and that the median time from triage to receiving antibiotics was 247 minutes, or a little more than four hours. The authors concluded that emergency department overcrowding is associated with delayed or no antibiotic treatment. Time-based performance metrics inside the ED can measure more than ED performance, and improvements can require interventions inside and outside the ED, the authors noted.
The other study concluded that as emergency department volume increases, patients with community-acquired pneumonia are less likely to receive timely antibiotic therapy. In this report, researchers found that 61% of the 731 patients at a university tertiary-care hospital from January 2004 to June 2005 received antibiotics within four hours, while 92.4% received antibiotics within eight hours. The effect of additional patients appears to occur at volumes even below the maximum bed capacity, the authors noted. Measures to ensure that quality targets are met in the ED should consider the impact of ED volume. -- by Jessica Zigmond