Ask Chip: Patient Experience

Patient Flow

Question: Currently, patients are boarding daily in the Emergency Department (ED) for over 12 hours while waiting to be placed in a bed upstairs. This is causing overburdening of the ED staff, and is unsafe as ED nurses are caring for critically ill patients while taking care of four other patients. What is the plan regarding throughput for patients coming from the ED being admitted to the hospital?

Answer: Thanks for your question and for your concern over the well-being and care of our patients. Throughput and patient flow is a challenge for many acute care hospitals in the United States, and Sibley Memorial Hospital is no exception. It’s a complex issue impacted by many factors, including inpatient census, operating room cases, discharges, transfers, patient acuity levels and others. Of course, throughout this process, ensuring patient safety remains our top priority. We are, however, trying to effectively address this issue. For example, we monitor the average length of stay in our ED on a daily basis. Currently, it is 5.5 to 6 hours (from arrival in the ED to departure to their admitting unit). We also have established a multi-disciplinary patient flow improvement team to identify and implement best practices regarding throughput. In the near future, a dedicated space for a command center equipped with technology and communication devices will be deployed to improve further throughput and patient flow at Sibley. Thanks again for your question. In the meantime, we welcome your thoughts and suggestions on improving patient throughput at Sibley.

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