Website spotlight: Seven tips for slashing ED wait times with limited resources

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, June 15, 2012

As anyone who works in an ED knows, long wait times are not an ED-specific issue. Most of the time, long wait times in the ED aren't due to the numbers of patients being seen in the ED, but rather to the patients who have been admitted to the hospital through the ED and are waiting for a bed to become available, otherwise known as "patient boarding."

With more hospitals posting their low wait times on billboards and websites in an effort to draw in business, how can EDs without a lot of resources even compete?

Cambridge (MA) Health Alliance (CHA) was able to reduce its wait times while simultaneously treating more patients without adding any resources, says Assaad Sayah, MD, president of the medical staff and chief of emergency medicine. CHA is a single institution with three EDs. In 2005, its EDs treated 78,000 patients and went on diversion 8% of the time. Its wait time was almost two hours, and 5% of patients left without being seen.

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