ED Overcrowding: The Ontario Approach

Schwartz/Reisman Emergency Centre, Mount Sinai Hospital, Ontario, Canada.
Academic Emergency Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.01). 12/2011; 18(12):1242-5. DOI: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2011.01220.x
Source: PubMed


ACADEMIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE 2011; 18:1242–1245 © 2011 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine
Ontario is Canada’s most populous province, with approximately 12 million people and 130 emergency departments (EDs). Canada has a national single-payer universal health care system, but provinces are responsible for administration. After years of problems and failed attempts to address chronic ED overcrowding, in April 2008 Ontario embarked on an ambitious program to improve system performance through targeted investments (initially CAN$500 million over 3 years) and realigned incentives. Supporting the program were requirements for hospitals to submit timely data and targets for length of stay (LOS) and annual improvements; results are publicly reported. The program has been continued this year. While not all our provincial level targets have been met as yet, major improvements have been made, especially in access to care and LOS in the ED for patients eventually discharged home. The greatest improvements were made among the cohort of mainly urban, high-volume EDs that had the worst performance at baseline. This presentation will highlight some of the controversies and challenges and key lessons learned. Overall, the Ontario experience suggests ED overcrowding is a soluble problem, but requires a system-level intervention.

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    • "For the EMS crew to be clear of their duty to their patient, a report must be given to the ED staff and the patient must be moved off of the EMS stretcher. International attention is now being paid to this new marker of ED performance among hospital administrators and EMS system officials [1,2]. The National Association of EMS Physicians has released a position paper on the topic [3], and there is an accompanying resource document [4] that notes that AOD is thought to have a potentially greater impact on patient safety than ambulance diversion and return to service times. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Ambulance offload delay (AOD) has been recognized by the National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) as an important quality marker. AOD is the time between arrival of a patient by EMS and the time that the EMS crew has given report and moved the patient off of the EMS stretcher, allowing the EMS crew to begin the process of returning to service. The AOD represents a potential delay in patient care and a delay in the availability of an EMS crew and their ambulance for response to emergencies. This pilot study was designed to assess the AOD at a university hospital utilizing direct observation by trained research assistants. Findings A convenience sample of 483 patients was observed during a 12-month period. Data were analyzed to determine the AOD overall and for four groups of National Emergency Department Overcrowding Scale (NEDOCS) score ranges. The AOD ranged from 0 min to 157 min with a median of 11 min. When data were grouped by NEDOCS score, there was a statistically significant difference in median AOD between the groups (p < 0.001), indicating the relationship between ED crowding and AOD. Conclusion The median AOD was considered significant and raised concerns related to patient care and EMS system resource availability. The NEDOCS score had a positive correlation with AOD and should be further investigated as a potential marker for determining diversion status or for destination decision-making by EMS personnel.
    International Journal of Emergency Medicine 05/2013; 6(1):15. DOI:10.1186/1865-1380-6-15
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    ABSTRACT: ACADEMIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE 2011; 18:1229–1233 © 2011 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Emergency department (ED) crowding is a major public health problem in the United States, with increasing numbers of ED visits, longer lengths of stay in the ED, and the common practice of ED boarding. In the next several years, several measures of ED crowding will be assessed and reported on government websites. In addition, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), millions more Americans will have health care insurance, many of whom will choose the ED for their care. In June 2011, a consensus conference was conducted in Boston, Massachusetts, by the journal Academic Emergency Medicine entitled “Interventions to Assure Quality in the Crowded Emergency Department.” The overall goal of the conference was to develop a series of research agendas to identify promising interventions to safeguard the quality of emergency care during crowded periods and to reduce ED crowding altogether through systemwide solutions. This was achieved through three objectives: 1) a review of interventions that have been implemented to reduce crowding and summarize the evidence of their effectiveness on the delivery of emergency care; 2) to identify strategies within or outside of the health care setting (i.e., policy, engineering, operations management, system design) that may help reduce crowding or improve the quality of emergency care provided during episodes of ED crowding; and 3) to identify the most appropriate design and analytic techniques for rigorously evaluating ED interventions designed to reduce crowding or improve the quality of emergency care provided during episodes of ED crowding. This article describes the background and rationale for the conference and highlights some of the discussions that occurred on the day of the conference. A series of manuscripts on the details of the conference is presented in this issue of Academic Emergency Medicine.
    Academic Emergency Medicine 12/2011; 18(12):1229-33. DOI:10.1111/j.1553-2712.2011.01228.x · 2.01 Impact Factor
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