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Delayed flow is a risk to patient safety: A mixed method analysis of emergency department patient flow

Pryce, A, Unwin, MR ORCID: 0000-0002-8431-3164, Kinsman, D ORCID: 0000-0002-0790-5887 and McCann, D ORCID: 0000-0001-6321-2586 2021 , 'Delayed flow is a risk to patient safety: A mixed method analysis of emergency department patient flow' , International Emergency Nursing, vol. 54 , pp. 1-9 , doi: 10.1016/j.ienj.2020.100956.

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Introduction: Increasing emergency department (ED) demand and crowding has heightened focus on the need for better understanding of patient flow.Aim: This study aimed to identify input, throughput and output factors contributing to ED patient flow bottlenecks and extended ED length of stay (EDLOS).Method: Concurrent nested mixed method study based on retrospective analysis of attendance data, patient flow observational data and a focus group in an Australian regional ED.Results: Analysis of 89 013 ED presentations identified increased EDLOS, particularly for patients requiring admission. Mapping of 382 patient journeys identified delays in time to triage assessment (0-39 mins) and extended waiting room stays (0-348 mins). High proportions of patients received care outside ED cubicles. Four qualitative themes emerged: coping under pressure, compromising care and safety, makeshift spaces, and makeshift roles.Conclusion: Three key findings emerged: i) hidden waits such as extended triage-queuing occur during the input phase; ii) makeshift spaces are frequently used to assess and treat patients during times of crowding; and iii) access block has an adverse effect on output flow. Data suggests arrival numbers may not be a key predictor of EDLOS. This research contributes to our understanding of ED crowding and patient flow, informing service delivery and planning.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Pryce, A and Unwin, MR and Kinsman, D and McCann, D
Keywords: crowding, emergency service, hospital, hallway care, length of stay, patient flow, patient safety, triage
Journal or Publication Title: International Emergency Nursing
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 1755-599X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.ienj.2020.100956
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2020 Crown Copyright

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