The acute surgical unit: improving emergency care
ABSTRACT Acute care surgical teams are a new concept in the provision of emergency general surgery. Juggling emergency patients around the surgeons' and staffs' elective commitments resulted in semi-emergency procedures routinely being delayed. In an era of increasing financial pressure and the recent introduction of 'safe work hours' practices, the need for a new system which optimized available resources became apparent.
At Fremantle Hospital we developed a new system in a concerted effort to minimize the waiting time for general surgical referrals in the Emergency Department, as well as to move semi-urgent operating from the afterhours to the daytime. To analyse the impact of the ASU, data were collected during February, March, and April 2009 and compared with data from the same period in 2008.
Although most referrals were received afterhours, over 85% of operations were performed during working hours compared with 72% in the 2008 period. The time from referral to review decreased from an average of 3.2 h in 2008 to 2.1 h. The mean duration of stay in 2009 was 3 days, which was a reduction from 4.2 days in 2008. An increase in weekend discharge rates was seen after the introduction of the ASU.
Despite an increased workload, more referrals were seen and more operations performed during working hours and the time from referral to review was reduced. Higher discharge rates and reduced length of stays increased the availability of beds. We have demonstrated a successful new model which continues to evolve.
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ABSTRACT: The Acute Surgical Unit (ASU) is a recent change in management of acute general surgical patients in hospitals worldwide. In contrast to traditional management of acute surgical presentations by a rotating on-call system, ASUs are shown to deliver improved efficiency and patient outcomes. This study investigated the impact of an ASU on operative management of appendicitis, the most common acute surgical presentation, by comparing performance indicators and patient outcomes prior to and after introduction of an ASU at the Gold Coast Hospital, Queensland, Australia. A retrospective study of patients admitted from the Emergency Department (ED) and who underwent emergency appendectomy from February 2010 to January 2011 (pre-ASU) and after introduction of the ASU from February 2011 to January 2012 (post-ASU). A total of 548 patients underwent appendectomy between February 2010 and January 2012, comprising 247 pre-ASU and 301 post-ASU patients. Significant improvements were demonstrated: reduced time to surgical review, fewer complications arising from operations commencing during ASU in-hours, and more appendectomies performed during the daytime attended by the consultant. There was no significant difference in total cost of admission or total admission length of stay. This study demonstrated that ASUs have potential to significantly improve the outcomes for operative management of acute appendicitis compared to the traditional on-call model. The impact of the ASU was limited by access to theaters and restricted ASU operation hours. Further investigation of site-specific determinants could be beneficial to optimize this new model of acute surgical care.World Journal of Surgery 08/2014; 38(8):1947-1953. DOI:10.1007/s00268-014-2497-z · 2.35 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Background: A key principle of acute surgical service provision is the establishment of a distinct patient flow process and an emergency theatre. Time-to-theatre (TTT) is a key performance indicator of theatre efficiency. The combined impacts of an aging population, increasing demands and complexity associated with centralisation of emergency and oncology services has placed pressure on emergency theatre access. We examined our institution's experience with running a designated emergency theatre for acute surgical patients. Methods: A retrospective review of an electronic prospectively maintained database was performed between 1/1/12 and 31/12/13. A cost analysis was conducted to assess the economic impact of delayed TTT, with every 24hr delay incurring the cost of an additional overnight bed. Delays and the economic effects were assessed only after the first 24 h as an in-patient had elapsed. Results: In total, 7041 procedures were performed. Overall mean TTT was 26 h, 2 min. There were significant differences between different age groups, with those aged under 16 year and over 65 having mean TTT at 6 h, 34 min (95% C.I. 0.51-2.15, p < 0.001) and 23 h, 41 min (95% C.I. 19.6-23.9, p < 0.001) respectively. 2421 (34%) waited greater than 24 h for emergency procedures. The >65 years age group had a mean TTT of 23 h, 41 min which was significantly longer than the overall mean TTT Vascular and urological emergencies are significantly disadvantaged in competition with other services for a shared emergency theatre. The economic impact of delayed TTT was calculated at €7,116,000, or €9880/day of additional costs generated from delayed TTT over a 24 month period. Conclusion: One third of patients waited longer than 24 h for emergency surgery, with the elderly disproportionately represented in this group. Aside from the clinical risks of delayed and out of hours surgery, such practices incur significant additional costs. New strategies must be devised to ensure efficient access to emergency theatres, investment in such services is likely to be financially and clinically beneficial. Copyright © 2014 Surgical Associates Ltd. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.International Journal of Surgery (London, England) 11/2014; 12(12):1333-1336. DOI:10.1016/j.ijsu.2014.10.002 · 1.65 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Acute care surgical services provide comprehensive emergency general surgical care while potentially using health care resources more efficiently. We assessed the volume and distribution of emergency general surgery (EGS) procedures before and after the implementation of the Acute Care and Emergency Surgery Service (ACCESS) at a Canadian tertiary care hospital and its effect on surgeon billings. This single-centre retrospective case-control study compared adult patients who underwent EGS procedures between July and December 2009 (pre-ACCESS), to those who had surgery between July and December 2010 (post-ACCESS). Case distribution was compared between day (7 am to 3 pm), evening (3 pm to 11 pm) and night (11 pm to 7 am). Frequencies were compared using the χ(2) test. Pre-ACCESS, 366 EGS procedures were performed: 24% during the day, 55% in the evening and 21% at night. Post-ACCESS, 463 operations were performed: 55% during the day, 36% in the evening and 9% at night. Reductions in night-time and evening EGS were 57% and 36% respectively (p < 0.001). Total surgeon billings for operations pre- and post-ACCESS were $281 066 and $287 075, respectively: remuneration was $6008 higher post-ACCESS for an additional 97 cases (p = 0.003). Using cost-modelling analysis, post-ACCESS surgeon billing for appendectomies, segmental colectomies, laparotomies and cholecystectomies all declined by $67 190, $125 215, $66 362, and $84 913, respectively (p < 0.001). Acute care surgical services have dramatically shifted EGS from nighttime to daytime. Cost-modelling analysis demonstrates that these services have cost-savings potential for the health care system without reducing overall surgeon billing.Canadian journal of surgery. Journal canadien de chirurgie 04/2014; 57(2):E9-E14. DOI:10.1503/cjs.001213 · 1.27 Impact Factor