Improving Emergency Care
The Emergency Department is a complex setting.
A continuous stream of patients with a wide variety of problems and needs.
Larger hospitals can see hundreds of patients in one day in the ED.
It can be challenging to ensure good care in such a complex, changing environment.
Patient care in the Emergency Department can affect the entire hospitals functioning.
Pre-hospital emergency care remains an area that still needs strengthening in most countries.
Join us in improving the quality and safety of hospital & pre-hospital emergency care services.
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Editors Choice Article of the Month!
Prolonged wait times prior to triage outside the emergency department (ED) were a major problem at our institution, compromising patient safety. Patients often waited for hours outside the ED in hot weather leading to exhaustion and clinical deterioration. The aim was to decrease the median waiting time to triage from 50 min outside ED for patients to <30 min over a 4-month period.
Methods A quality improvement (QI) team was formed. Data on waiting time to triage were collected between 12 pm and 1 pm. Data were collected by hospital attendants and recorded manually. T1 was noted as a time of arrival outside the ED, and T2 was noted as the time of first medical contact. The QI team used plan–do–study–act cycles to test solutions. Change ideas to address these gaps were tested during May and June 2018. Change ideas were focused on improving the knowledge and skills of staff posted in triage and reducing turnover of triage staff. Data were analysed using run chart rules.
Results Within 6 weeks, the waiting time to triage reduced to <30 min (median, 12 min; IQR, 11 min) and this improvement was sustained for the next 8 weeks despite an increase in patient load.
Conclusion The authors demonstrated that people new to QI could use improvement methods to address a specific problem. It was the commitment of the frontline staff, with the active support of senior leadership in the department that helped this effort succeed.
Project led by an emergency medicine resident!
Failure of early identification of sepsis in the emergency department (ED) leads to significant delays in antibiotic administration which adversely affects patient outcomes.
The primary objective of our Quality Improvement (QI) project was to reduce the door-to-antibiotic time (DTAT) by 30% from the preintervention in patients with suspected sepsis. Secondary objectives were to increase the blood culture collection rate by 30% from preintervention, investigate the predictors of improving DTAT and study the effect of these interventions on 24-hour in-hospital mortality.
Methods: This QI project was conducted in the ED of a tertiary care teaching hospital of North India; the ED receives approximately 400 patients per day. Adult patients with suspected sepsis presenting to our ED were included in the study, between January 2019 and December 2020.
The project was divided into three phases; preintervention phase (100 patients), intervention phase (100 patients) and postintervention phase (93 patients). DTAT and blood cultures prior to antibiotic administration was recorded for all patients. Blood culture yield and 24-hour in-hospital mortality were also recorded using standard data templates. Change ideas planned by the Sepsis QI Team were implemented after conducting plan-do-study-act cycles.
Results The median DTAT reduced from 155 min in preintervention phase to 78 min in postintervention phase. Drawing of blood cultures prior to antibiotic administration improved by 67%. Application of novel screening tool at triage was found to be an independent predictor of reduced DTAT.
Conclusion Our QI project identified the existing lacunae in implementation of the sepsis bundle which were dealt with in a stepwise manner. The sepsis screening tool and on-site training improved care of patients with sepsis. A similar approach can be used to deal with complex quality issues in other high-volume low-resource settings.