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Decreased Emergency Department Length of Stay by Application of a Computerized Consultation Management System

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Abstract:

ACADEMIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE 2011; 18:398–402 © 2011 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Abstract Objectives: 

Consultation difficulty occurs in hospitals located in many countries, and it is understood that strategies to improve the emergency department (ED) consultation process are needed. The authors constructed a computerized consultation management system in the ED of a tertiary care teaching hospital to improve the consultation process and evaluate the influence of the consultation management system on ED length of stay (LOS) and the throughput process. Methods: 

Consultation management system software was developed and integrated into the hospital information system. The development process took place between June 2008 and May 2009. Before the development of the consultation system, ED personnel contacted on-call physicians of the specialty department, who are usually residents, by cellular phones. After the system had been developed, ED personnel selected the department and on-call physician in the specialty department using the consultation management software and activated the automatic consultation process when specialty consultation was necessary. If the treatment plan had not been registered for 3 hours, all of the residents in the specific department are notified of the delay in the treatment plan with a short message service (SMS) message. If an admission or discharge order had not been made in 6 hours, all of the residents and faculty staff in the specific department receive SMS messages stating the delay in disposition. ED patient data were collected from the hospital information system for 40 days before the system was developed (June 1, 2008, to July 10, 2008) and 40 days after the system was implemented (June 1, 2009, to July 10, 2009). Results: 

The median ED LOS decreased significantly, from 417.5 minutes (interquartile range [IQR] = 178.8–1,247.5 minutes) in the presystem period to 311.0 minutes (IQR = 128.0–817.3 minutes) in the postsystem period (p < 0.001). Also, the median time to disposition order decreased significantly, from 336.0 minutes (IQR = 145.0–943.0 minutes) to 235.0 minutes (IQR = 103.0–21.5; p = 0.001). No significant reduction was observed in the interval between the time of disposition decision and the time when the patients left the ED. Significant reductions of ED LOS were observed after implementing the system (p < 0.001) regardless of whether the visit occurred during the weekday daytime (09:00–17:00 hours), holiday and weekend daytime (09:00–17:00 hours), or nighttime (17:00–09:00 hours next day). Conclusions: 

This study found decreased ED LOS by implementation of a computerized consultation management system in a tertiary care teaching hospital. The automated consultation and monitoring process formalized communication between physicians providing ED patient care in the academic ED with high consultation and admission rates.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1553-2712.2011.01039.x

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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