Coordinating patient discharges early in the day, moving patients to other hospital areas and registering patients at their bedsides are some ways to reduce boarding and improve patient flow in emergency departments, according to a new report from the American College of Emergency Physicians. Last August, the college established a task force to develop some low-cost or no-cost solutions to the practice of boarding, which holds admitted patients in a hospitals emergency room. Emergency department crowding is an institutional problem that goes well beyond the emergency department, the report states. Only when all stakeholders agree that the problems is systemic and hospitalwide, can solutions be implemented that will improve patient flow from triage to discharge and protect everyones access to emergency care, according to the study. The group listed three high-impact solutions to the problem: moving emergency patients who have been admitted to the hospital out of the emergency department to other inpatient areas, such as hallways, conference rooms and solaria; coordinating the discharge of hospital patients before noon to help make more inpatient beds available; and coordinating the schedules of elective patients and surgical patients. Studies show that the uneven influx of elective surgical patients (heaviest early in the week) is a prime contributor to hospitals exceeding their capacity, the study noted. Other solutions include registering patients at their bedsides, canceling elective surgeries and creating fast-track units, which would require triaging patients with nonurgent medical conditions to a separate area of the emergency department for care.
Doc group releases plan to improve ER patient flow
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