How To Handle Emergency Room Traffic More Efficiently

Health care clinics see more patients than emergency rooms do these days. A leading reason for this switch in emergency care is because patients do not want to wait several hours in the ER for help when it is obvious that no one else has been admitted during the same amount of time. Another reason is that many emergency rooms now refer less traumatized patients to health care clinics instead, sometimes without even seeing a patient for a diagnosis. If the goal of your hospital is to meet all patient needs and not defer them elsewhere, there are ways to handle emergency room traffic more efficiently.

Late Night and Early Morning Traffic

While most of the world sleeps between 11p.m. and 3a.m., there are some others who are out dancing and drinking. The elevated incidents of emergency accidents always occur around these hours on weekends. Except for auto accidents during the day or the occasional violent attack, the remainder of your emergency room patients are infants and children who need immediate attention because they broke a bone or have difficulty breathing. The rules of triage are first come, first served, unless the injury or health problem is more serious and life-threatening than the patients who were there first.

To balance out all of the ebb and flow in your ER, have more doctors and nurses on to work the typical high volume hours during every twenty-four hour period. You can hire a specialist to analyze the data over the course of a year to see when those critical hours occur, and then put extra staff on the schedule or on-call to suit patient needs. As for the slower times, you can continue following the "first come, first served" protocol because a good proportion of patients arrive with little more than fevers, chills, vomiting, migraines, and other common, easily addressed physical complaints.

Ease the Load on Your ER Staff

In addition to having a few extra doctors and registered nurses on hand, hire some physician's assistants to fill in for both doctors and nurses. Because their degree allows them to act like a nurse but prescribe and treat like a doctor, you are ready to handle most emergencies even when you are short-staffed. In addition to PA's doing double duty, they can act as triage nurses, separating your more serious patients from those that could wait a few extra minutes. It cuts admission and examination time down, causing your distraught patients to feel less anxiety. It helps the patients feel like someone is paying attention and not ignoring them.