Establishment of a Unified Quality Indicators System to Increase the Effectiveness of Emergency Departments

Establishment of a Unified Quality Indicators System to Increase the Effectiveness of Emergency Departments

Anat Ratnovsky (Afeka Tel Aviv Academic College of Engineering, Tel Aviv, Israel), Shai Rozenes (Engineering and Management of Service Systems, Afeka Tel Aviv Academic College of Engineering, Tel Aviv, Israel) and Pinchas Halpern (Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and Tel Aviv University, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv, Israel)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/IJISSC.2019100101
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The overall quality of an emergency department (ED) can be measured by its ability to provide fast, efficient yet high-quality medical treatments to its patients. The objective of the present study was to derive a common set of key indicators that could be used to assess the quality of the performance of EDs. A modified Delphi process was employed to achieve this. This consisted of a detailed literature review followed by a three-round expert panel interaction, which was used to reduce and refine the list of indicators. The members of the panel comprised ED physicians, ED nurses and hospital and ED administrators drawn from six EDs. This process yielded 47 essential performance indicators and 12 recommended indicators. The performance indicators were classified into 7 main groups according to their characteristics. The chosen indicators comprise a core set that will be used in an ongoing study on a representative sample of EDs.
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An emergency department (ED) is a large and complex system (Smith & Craig Feied, 1999). The overall quality of an emergency department (ED) can be measured, among other factors, by its ability to supply fast and efficient, yet high-quality medical treatment for all patients. Patient care in the ED is a continuous stream of activities, beginning with initial contact and triage and ending with the patient leaving the ED for either an inpatient department or home. Long waiting times and overcrowding characterize most EDs nowadays and have a significant negative impact on patient safety, quality of care and satisfaction (Jiménez et al., 2003). Measuring the quality and efficiency of patient care in the ED at the national level in a standardized, detailed, and reproducible manner is extremely complex (Nwomeh, Lowell, Kable, Haley, & Ameh, 2006). The ability to manage this knowledge into a unified support system is a prerequisite for effective (Zeleny, 2013) Nevertheless, ED quality indicators have been developed in some countries, such as the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and Canada.

ED triage systems can play a key role in performance. For this reason, a number of countries have developed acuity scales to help optimize the efficiency and quality of ED patient care. For example, the Canadian ED triage and acuity scale (CTAS) (Bullard, Unger, Spence, & Grafstein, 2008) has five acuity levels consisting of resuscitation (patient needs to be seen by a physician immediately), emergent (patient needs to be seen by a physician within 15 minutes), urgent (needs to be seen within 30 minutes), less urgent (needs to be seen within 60 minutes) and non-urgent (needs to be seen within 120 minutes). This scale has been shown to accurately define the patients’ acuity level and to assist ED staff members in evaluating patients, resource needs, and performance against certain operating objectives (Elkum, Barrett, & Al-Omran, 2011). The CTAS feasibility and validity were also assessed outside of Canada (external validity), specifically in Andorra (Jiménez et al., 2003) and Saudi Arabia (Elkum et al., 2011). Using four relevant quality indicators: time to triage (should be ≤ 10 minutes), triage duration (should be ≤ 5 minutes), waiting time to nurse and physician, and proportion of patients leaving without being seen by a physician (should be ≤ 2%) its implementation was proven. In addition, its ability to predict admission rates, hospital length of stay and diagnostic utilization was shown (Jiménez et al., 2003).

The CTAS, although its ability to predict other parameters than the acuity measure was proven, is focusing mainly on the triage process. More indices are required for the overall assessment of the ED performance.

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