ED crowding is associated with an increased time to pneumonia treatment

Rishi Sikka, Supriya Mehta, Carleen Kaucky, Erik B Kulstad
American Journal of Emergency Medicine 2010, 28 (7): 809-12

OBJECTIVE: We measured the correlation between emergency department (ED) occupancy rate and time to antibiotic administration for patients with pneumonia treated in a community hospital setting.

METHODS: We reviewed quality improvement data on patients treated for pneumonia in our ED and admitted over a 5-month period. The outcomes were timeliness of antibiotic therapy (within 4 hours of arrival) and overall time to antibiotic administration. Emergency department crowding was measured as the ED occupancy rate. We calculated (1) the Spearman correlation between occupancy rate at time of patient presentation and the time to antibiotic administration, (2) the odds ratio of receiving antibiotics within 4 hours with increasing ED occupancy, and (3) the ability of the occupancy rate to predict failure of achieving the 4-hour goal with the receiver operating characteristic curve.

RESULTS: A total of 334 patients were treated over the study period, of which 262 had complete data available. Occupancy rate ranged from 20% to 245%, and median was 137%. Eighty-one percent received antibiotics within 4 hours; the median time was 150 minutes. Time to antibiotics showed a positive correlation with occupancy rate (Spearman ρ = 0.17, P = .008). An increasing ED occupancy rate was associated with decreased odds of receiving antibiotics within 4 hours (odds ratio, 0.31; 95% confidence interval, 0.13-0.75). Receiver operating characteristic curve area was 0.62 (95% confidence interval, 0.54-0.70; P = .009).

CONCLUSION: Emergency department occupancy rate was associated with increased time to antibiotic treatment for patients admitted with pneumonia. Occupancy rate had fair success in predicting failure of treatment within 4 hours.

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