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Emergency room changes improve timeliness of care

 

Banner Lassen Medical Center changes model of patient processes
SUSANVILLE, Calif. (June 14, 2013) – With an eye on reducing the wait for patients to see a provider at Banner Lassen Medical Center Emergency Department, employees are implementing a new process for evaluating and treating patients.

A patient flow model is the structure of a person’s visit to the Emergency Department:

  • Arrival, triage evaluation by a registered nurse
  • Full assessment with a nurse and health care provider
  • Results of the visit which may include treatment and then discharge home or admission to the hospital

When something inhibits this process, or flow, patients wait longer. By examining their process, BLMC staff identified areas where they can avoid roadblocks and provide a better experience for patients.

BLMC’s Emergency Department sees approximately 30 patients each day. The department has nine beds. Emergencies by nature follow no schedule, and the seriousness of each case differs. What staff wants to avoid is having patient beds occupied by less critical patients awaiting discharge while patients whose injuries or illnesses may be more serious wait.

Regardless of process changes, BLMC still will provide immediate care to the most critical cases as determined by the triage nurse and to anyone who shows symptoms of a heart attack or something similar.
The hope is that ultimately patients’ length of stay in the Emergency Department – from registration to discharge home or admission to the hospital – will be shorter.

The new flow model will have a couple of changes to help patients see a provider faster. The registration and triage by a nurse will remain the same. After triage, the patient will go in one of two directions – if the illness or injury is more critical, the patient will go to that area. For patients whose illness or injury is less serious, they will be sent to an intake room where a nurse and a provider will do a joint assessment. This means one less time a patient has to tell his or her story.

If the patient needs a procedure or medical imaging, he or she will be taken to those areas. Then, to wait for test results, instructions and discharge, the patient will go to a results-pending area similar to a sub-waiting room. When the provider is available, he or she will meet with the patient in a private area to review results and any further actions that may be required. In this sub-waiting area, only the patient and one guest are allowed.

“Freeing up the patient beds, by having people wait in the results-pending area, will allow more patients to be seen in a timely manner – as well as ensure those whose illness or injury is more serious are promptly treated,” said Stephen Alford, RN, emergency department manager.

The process began a few weeks ago and is referred to as the Split Flow Model; the process has been recognized in hospitals across the country as a means to reduce waiting times in emergency department as well as the amount of time patients spend in the emergency department.

About Banner Lassen Medical Center
Banner Lassen Medical Center in Susanville, Calif., originally opened in 1883 as Lassen County Hospital. It is a part of Banner Health, a nonprofit healthcare system with 24 hospitals in seven states. Banner Lassen offers a range of services to aid in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness. For more information, visit www.BannerHealth.com/Lassen.

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