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Article
Publication date: 5 October 2010

Keith A. Willoughby, Benjamin T.B. Chan and Marlene Strenger

The purpose of this paper is to provide details on a study to determine the wait time and service time for various emergency department (ED) patient care processes and to apply…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide details on a study to determine the wait time and service time for various emergency department (ED) patient care processes and to apply the science of plan‐do‐study‐act (PDSA) cycles to improve patient flow.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper used direct observation to collect patient flow data on 1,728 patients at multiple ED sites in Saskatchewan, Canada. It calculated wait times and services associated with important care processes and then tested, measured and implemented ideas to reduce wait time.

Findings

On an average, patients spend nearly five hours in the ED with about one‐half of the visit devoted to waiting for the next required service to take place. Waiting for an inpatient bed, specialist consultation or physician reassessment comprised relatively long wait times. Through the use of visual reminders and standard process worksheets, quality improvement teams were able to achieve large reductions in physician reassessment waiting time. These improvements required minimal materials cost and no additional staff.

Research limitations/implications

The case study featured EDs within a particular Canadian province, so may not be generalizeable to other settings. We only sampled a fraction of ED patients at each facility.

Practical implications

Admitted patients waiting for a hospital bed represent a key contributor to ED congestion. PDSA cycles are a valuable approach to achieving quality improvement in health care.

Originality/value

The paper fulfils an identified need by breaking down an ED patient's waiting time into several high‐level processes. It also applies improvement science to ED patient flow.

Details

Leadership in Health Services, vol. 23 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1879

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 5 October 2010

Jennifer Bowerman

365

Abstract

Details

Leadership in Health Services, vol. 23 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1879

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