Diverting Non-Urgent Cases Cuts Emergency Wait Times

Satellite clinic instead of emergency department can handle follow-up consultations
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Emergency department wait times can be significantly reduced if non-urgent follow-up cases are diverted to a satellite clinic instead of being treated in the emergency department, according to a study in the November issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

Sheila R. Finamore, R.N., of the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby, Canada, and Sheila A. Turris, Ph.D., of Vancouver Coastal Health in Canada, describe how less-urgent patient presentations, which account for a large part of their hospital's emergency department traffic, are handled in an innovative way.

The authors write that patients who would previously have returned to the emergency department for follow-up care are instead diverted to a satellite clinic staffed with an emergency department nurse and physician, which is open for four hours a day, Monday through Friday. The project has been so successful that opening hours have now been extended to provide whole-day, seven days a week, service to returning patients.

"We have increased capacity by removing returning patients from the pool of patients requiring care in the emergency department," the authors write. "We have streamlined the process by creating a separate registration area and a separately staffed treatment area. In addition, we have increased throughput, reducing the length of stay for returning patients."

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