Systematic Review of three key strategies designed to improve patient flow through emergency departments

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Elder, Elizabeth
Johnston, Amy NB
Crilly, Julia
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2015
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Abstract

To explore the literature regarding three key strategies designed to promote patient throughput in the ED. CINAHL, Medline, PubMed, Scopus and Australian Government databases were searched for articles published between 1980 and 2014 using the key search terms ED flow/throughput, ED congestion, crowding, overcrowding, models of care, physician‐assisted triage, medical assessment units, nurse practitioner, did not wait (DNW) and ED length of stay (LOS). Abstracts and articles not published in English and articles published before 1980 were excluded from the review. Quantitative and qualitative studies were considered for inclusion. The National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Level of Evidence Hierarchy (2009) was applied to included studies. Twenty‐one articles met criteria for review. The level of evidence assessed using the NHMRC guidelines of studies ranged from I to IV, with the majority falling into the Level II‐2 (n = 6) and III‐3 (n = 9) range. ED LOS was the outcome most often reported. Study quality was limited with few studies adjusting for confounding factors. Only one level I systematic review was included in this review. Advanced practice nursing roles, physician‐assisted triage and medical assessment units are models of care that can positively impact ED throughput. They have been shown to decrease ED LOS and DNW rates. Confounding factors, such as site specific staffing requirements, patient acuity and rest‐of‐hospital processes, can also impact on patient throughput through the ED.

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Emergency Medicine Australasia
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27
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5
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Clinical sciences
Nursing not elsewhere classified
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