Office Of Public Affairs

Emergency Department Sets 10-Minute Goal to See Patients

Mar 4, 2008 11:00 AM

If a pilot program at University Hospital Emergency Department (ED) proves successful, a long, drawn-out emergency stay could be a thing of the past.

Starting 2008 with an ambitious resolution, Emergency Department Manager Mike Gibbons, R.N., hopes to cut off two hours from total treatment time for those patients who are not critically injured or sick. Gibbons admits the goal is aggressive, but he thinks it’s achievable. With the new protocol, launched Jan. 3, the ED staff is committed to offering a provider consultation within the first 10 minutes of every visit. Even those who appear to have minor flu symptoms will be seen by a physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner. “When a patient comes to the emergency  room, it’s for one reason only,” Gibbons said, “to see a provider.”

Each patient will see an emergency medical technician at the front window for initial evaluation. If the person’s condition is not critical, he or she will  be considered a fast-track patient and directed to sit in a chair inside the Emergency Department. That’s when the 10-minute countdown begins.

“We think the trade-off [of having patients sit in chairs] is well worth the benefits,” said Steve Sugarman, P.A., director of mid-level providers for the Emergency Department. “We really feel that patients are going to get care quicker, X-rays ordered faster, and treatment administered better. And that’s not just about patient satisfaction. That’s for our satisfaction as well.” After all, Sugarman added, when patients are happy, the staff is happy, too.

Gibbons said, “This is the first time that I’ve been involved in a redesign project where we’ve truly looked at care delivery from the patient’s  perspective and how to better meet their needs.”

The Emergency Department handles up to 140 patients a day, Gibbons said, but with better efficiency, that number could increase. Now, 30 days into the program, the staff is taking a closer look to evaluate its effectiveness and organization. While they haven’t quite met their 10-minute goal, yet, the average wait time has gone down from well over an hour to just 18 minutes. “Our new process is alive and well,” Gibbons said.

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