Impact of rapid entry and accelerated care at triage on reducing emergency department patient wait times, lengths of stay, and rate of left without being seen

Theodore C Chan, James P Killeen, Donna Kelly, David A Guss
Annals of Emergency Medicine 2005, 46 (6): 491-7

STUDY OBJECTIVE: Patients who leave before being seen by a physician represent a significant problem for many emergency departments (EDs). We sought to determine the effect of a new ED rapid entry and accelerated care at triage (REACT) process on the frequency of patients who leave before being seen.

METHODS: We conducted a before-after intervention design to study the effect of REACT for ambulatory patients presenting to our urban academic center ED with a census of approximately 37,000. This process redesign included patient identification tracking, integrated computer interfaces to eliminate up-front registration tasks, immediate placement of patients in open ED beds, and physician-directed ancillary testing and care at triage when no ED beds were available. Outcome measures included the average monthly rate of patients who left before being seen during the 6 months before (pre-REACT) and 6 to 12 months after (post-REACT) its initiation. Other measures included average of mean monthly rates of wait times, ED length of stay, ED census, and admissions.

RESULTS: There was a significant decrease in leave before being seen frequency from the pre-REACT to post-REACT periods (3.2% absolute decrease [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.9% to 4.6%]), despite an overall increase in ED census. Average mean monthly patient wait times decreased by 24 minutes [95% CI 10 to 38 minutes] after the initiation of REACT, as did overall ED length of stay by 31 minutes [95% CI 6 to 57 minutes].

CONCLUSION: The initiation of a rapid entry and accelerated care process significantly decreased patient leave before being seen rates, average wait times and length of stay, despite an overall increase in patient census.

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