Researchers at the University of Warwick`s Emergency Medicine Research Group have shown that the introduction of a separate stream for minor injuries in a hospital casualty department can reduce the overall number of trauma patients having to wait over an hour for treatment by around 30%.
Dr Matthew Cooke from the University of Warwick`s Centre for Primary Health Care Studies Emergency Medicine Research Group led a research team which looked at a scheme where the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital accident and emergency department set up a separate minor injuries stream system where one cubicle was set up as a desk type consulting room. One doctor was based in this room and saw any walking patients with injuries not requiring an examination couch urgent treatment. The next two patients to be seen sat in a waiting area immediately outside the room, so the doctor could call them in without any delay. Any patients requiring further treatment were then passed to a nurse who could see them in another cubicle. In this way, the doctor in the “fast track room” was continuously seeing patients.
The researchers looked at data on the waiting times from 13918 new patients seen during the 10 week research period; 7117 (51.1%) in the five week period without the streaming and 6801 (49.9%) in the second five week period when the separate stream was operational. Comparison of the two five week periods demonstrated that the proportion of patients waiting for more than one hour decreased by 32% and that the improvements in waiting times were not at the expense of patients with more urgent needs.
This evidence contributed to the national strategy on emergency care Reforming Emergency Care, which states that all accident and emergency departments will introduce streaming
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