Are reductions in emergency department length of stay associated with improvements in quality of care? A difference-in-differences analysis.
ABSTRACT: We sought to determine whether patients seen in hospitals who had reduced overall emergency department (ED) length of stay (LOS) in the 2?years following the introduction of the Ontario Emergency Room Wait Time Strategy were more likely to experience improvements in other measures of ED quality of care for three important conditions.Retrospective medical record review using difference-in-differences analysis to compare changes in performance on quality indicators over the 3-year period between 11 Ontario hospitals where the median ED LOS had improved from fiscal year 2008 to 2010 and 13 matched sites where ED LOS was unchanged or worsened. Patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), asthma and paediatric and adult upper limb fractures in these hospitals in 2008 and 2010 were evaluated with respect to 18 quality indicators reflecting timeliness and safety/effectiveness of care in the ED. In a secondary analysis, we examined shift-level ED crowding at the time of the patient visit and performance on the quality indicators.Median ED LOS improved by up to 26% (63?min) from 2008 to 2010 in the improved hospitals, and worsened by up to 47% (91?min) in the unimproved sites. We abstracted 4319 and 4498 charts from improved and unimproved hospitals, respectively. Improvement in a hospital's overall median ED LOS from 2008 to 2010 was not associated with a change in any of the other ED quality indicators over the same time period. In our secondary analysis, shift-level crowding was associated only with indicators that reflected timeliness of care. During less crowded shifts, patients with AMI were more likely to be reperfused within target intervals (rate ratio 1.59, 95% CI 1.03 to 2.45), patients with asthma more often received timely administration of steroids (rate ratio 1.88, 95% CI 1.59 to 2.24) and beta-agonists (rate ratio 1.47, 95% CI 1.25 to 1.74), and adult (but not paediatric) patients with fracture were more likely to receive analgesia or splinting within an hour (rate ratio 1.66, 95% CI 1.22 to 2.26).These results suggest that a policy approach that targets only reductions in ED LOS is not associated with broader improvements in selected quality measures. At the same time, there is no evidence that efforts to address crowding have a detrimental effect on quality of care.
Project description:In 2009, the New Zealand government introduced a hospital emergency department (ED) target - 95% of patients seen, treated or discharged within 6 h - in order to alleviate crowding in public hospital EDs. While these targets were largely met by 2012, research suggests that such targets can be met without corresponding overall reductions in ED length-of-stay (LOS). Our research explores whether the NZ ED time target actually reduced ED LOS, and if so, how and when.We adopted a mixed-methods approach with integration of data sources. After selecting four hospitals as case study sites, we collected all ED utilisation data for the period 2006 to 2012. ED LOS data was derived in two forms-reported ED LOS, and total ED LOS - which included time spent in short-stay units. This data was used to identify changes in the length of ED stay, and describe the timing of these changes to these indicators. Sixty-eight semi-structured interviews and two surveys of hospital clinicians and managers were conducted between 2011 and 2013. This data was then explored to identify factors that could account for ED LOS changes and their timing.Reported ED LOS reduced in all sites after the introduction of the target, and continued to reduce in 2011 and 2012. However, total ED LOS only decreased from 2008 to 2010, and did not reduce further in any hospital. Increased use of short-stay units largely accounted for these differences. Interview and survey data showed changes to improve patient flow were introduced in the early implementation period, whereas increased ED resources, better information systems to monitor target performance, and leadership and social marketing strategies mainly took throughout 2011 and 2012 when total ED LOS was not reducing.While the ED target clearly stimulated improvements in patient flow, our analysis also questions the value of ED targets as a long term approach. Increased use of short-stay units suggests that the target became less effective in 'standing for' improved timeliness of hospital care in response to increasing acute demand. As such, the overall challenges in managing demand for acute and urgent care in New Zealand hospitals remain.
Project description:Emergency department (ED) crowding has been identified as a major threat to public health.We assessed patient transit times and ED system crowding measures based on their associations with outcomes.Retrospective cohort study.We accessed electronic health record data on 136,740 adults with a visit to any of 13 health system EDs from January 2008 to December 2010.Patient transit times (waiting, evaluation and treatment, boarding) and ED system crowding [nonindex patient length-of-stay (LOS) and boarding, bed occupancy] were determined. Outcomes included individual inpatient mortality and admission LOS. Covariates included demographic characteristics, past comorbidities, severity of illness, arrival time, and admission diagnoses.No patient transit time or ED system crowding measure predicted increased mortality after control for patient characteristics. Index patient boarding time and lower bed occupancy were associated with admission LOS (based on nonoverlapping 95% CI vs. the median value). As boarding time increased from none to 14 hours, admission LOS increased an additional 6 hours. As mean occupancy decreased below the median (80% occupancy), admission LOS decreased as much as 9 hours.Measures indicating crowded ED conditions were not predictive of mortality after case-mix adjustment. The first half-day of boarding added to admission LOS rather than substituted for it. Our findings support the use of boarding time as a measure of ED crowding based on robust prediction of admission LOS. Interpretation of measures based on other patient ED transit times may be limited to the timeliness of care.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Emergency department (ED) crowding and prolonged length of stay (LOS) are associated with delays in treatment, adverse outcomes and decreased patient satisfaction. Hospital restructuring and mergers are often associated with increased ED crowding. The aim of this study was to explore ED crowding and LOS in Norway's largest ED before and after an increased catchment area. METHODS:The catchment area of Akershus University Hospital increased by approximately 150,000 inhabitants in 2011, from 340,000 to 490,000. In this retrospective study, admissions to the ED during a six-year period, from Jan 1st 2010 to Dec 31st 2015 were included and analyzed. RESULTS:A total of 179,989 admissions were included (51.0% men). The highest occupancy rate was in the age group 70-79?years. Following the increase in the catchment area, the annual ED admissions increased by 8343 (40.9%) from 2010 to 2011, and peaked in 2013 (34,002). Mean LOS increased from 3:59?h in 2010 to 4:17 in 2012 (highest), and decreased to 3:45?h in 2015 after staff, capacity and organizational measures. In 2010, 37.9% of the ED patients experienced crowding, and this proportion increased to between 52.9-77.6% in 2011-2015. Crowding peaked between 4 and 5?PM. CONCLUSIONS:LOS increased and crowding was more frequent after a major increase in the hospital's catchment area in Norway's largest emergency department. Even after 5 years, the LOS was higher than before the expansion, mainly because of the throughput and output components, which were not properly adapted to the changes in input.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Emergency department (ED) crowding leads to prolonged emergency department length of stay (ED-LOS) and adverse patient outcomes. No uniform definition of ED crowding exists. Several scores have been developed to quantify ED crowding; the best known is the Emergency Department Work Index (EDWIN). Research on the EDWIN is often applied to limited settings and conducted over a short period of time. OBJECTIVES:To explore whether the EDWIN as a measure can track occupancy at a Dutch ED over the course of one year and to identify fluctuations in ED occupancy per hour, day, and month. Secondary objective is to investigate the discriminatory value of the EDWIN in detecting crowding, as compared with the occupancy rate and prolonged ED-LOS. METHODS:A retrospective cohort study of all ED visits during the period from September 2010 to August 2011 was performed in one hospital in the Netherlands. The EDWIN incorporates the number of patients per triage level, physicians, treatment beds and admitted patients to quantify ED crowding. The EDWIN was adjusted to emergency care in the Netherlands: modified EDWIN (mEDWIN). ED crowding was defined as the 75th percentile of mEDWIN per hour, which was ?0.28. RESULTS:In total, 28,220 ED visits were included in the analysis. The median mEDWIN per hour was 0.15 (Interquartile range (IQR) 0.05-0.28); median mEDWIN per patient was 0.25 (IQR 0.15-0.39). The EDWIN was higher on Wednesday (0.16) than on other days (0.14-0.16, p<0.001), and a peak in both mEDWIN (0.30-0.33) and ED crowding (52.9-63.4%) was found between 13:00-18:00 h. A comparison of the mEDWIN with the occupancy rate revealed an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.86 (95%CI 0.85-0.87). The AUC of mEDWIN compared with a prolonged ED-LOS (?4 hours) was 0.50 (95%CI 0.40-0.60). CONCLUSION:The mEDWIN was applicable at a Dutch ED. The mEDWIN was able to identify fluctuations in ED occupancy. In addition, the mEDWIN had high discriminatory power for identification of a busy ED, when compared with the occupancy rate.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Emergency Department (ED) crowding is a pervasive problem, yet there have been few comparisons of the extent of, and contributors to, crowding among different types of EDs. The study quantifies and compares crowding metrics for 16 high volume regional, urban and academic EDs in one Canadian province. METHODS:The National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS) provided ED presentations by adults to 16 high volume Alberta EDs during April 2010 to March 2015 for this retrospective cohort study. Time to physician initial assessment (PIA), length of stay (LOS) for discharges and admissions were grouped by start hour of presentation and facility. Multiple crowding metrics were created by taking the means, medians (PIA-M, LOS-M), and 90th percentiles of the hourly, ED-specific values. Similarly, proportion left against medical advice (LAMA) and proportion left without being seen (LWBS) were day and ED aggregated. Calculated based on the start of the presentation and the facility and for PIA and LOS. The mean, median, and 90th percentiles for the date and time ED-specific metrics for PIA and LOS were obtained. Summary statistics were used to describe crowding metrics. RESULTS:There were 3,925,457 presentations by 1,420,679 adults. The number of presentations was similar for each sex and the mean age was 46?years. Generally, the three categories of EDs had similar characteristics; however, urban and academic/teaching EDs had more urgent triage scores and a higher percentage of admissions than regional EDs. The median of the PIA-M metric was 1?h23m across all EDs. For discharges, the median of the LOS-M metric was 3h21m whereas the median of the LOS-M metric for admissions was 10h08m. Generally, regional EDs had shorter times than urban and academic/teaching EDs. The median daily LWBS was 3.4% and the median daily LAMA was about 1%. CONCLUSIONS:Emergency presentations have increased over time, and crowding metrics vary considerably among EDs and over the time of day. Academic/teaching EDs generally have higher crowding metrics than other EDs and urgent action is required to mitigate the well-known consequences of ED crowding.
Project description:<h4>Objectives</h4>The objective was to examine the relationship between laboratory testing (including test volume and turnaround time [TAT]) and emergency department (ED) length of stay (LOS), using linked patient-level data from four hospitals across 4 years.<h4>Methods</h4>This was a retrospective, multisite cohort study of patients presenting to any one of four EDs in New South Wales, Australia, during a 2-month period (August and September) in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Data from ED information systems were linked to laboratory test data. A cross-classified random-effect modeling approach was applied to identify factors affecting ED LOS, taking into account the correlation between patients' presentations at the same hospital and/or in the same calendar year. Number of test order episodes (tests ordered at one point in time during the ED stay) and TAT (time from laboratory order receipt to result available) were examined.<h4>Results</h4>As the number of test order episodes increased, so did the duration of patient ED LOS (p < 0.0001). For every five additional tests ordered per test order episode, the median ED LOS increased by 10 minutes (2.9%, p < 0.0001); each 30-minute increase in TAT was, on average, associated with a 5.1% (17 minutes; p < 0.0001) increase in ED LOS, after adjustment for other factors. Patients presenting to the ED at night (7 p.m. to 7 a.m.) had longer stays than those presenting during the daytime, although the median TATs at nights were shorter than those during the daytime.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Laboratory testing has a direct effect on patients' LOS in ED. Laboratory TAT, number of testing episodes, and test volume influence ED LOS. Targeted increases of ED resources and staffing after-hours may also contribute to reductions in ED LOS.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Recent toxicological and epidemiological evidence suggests that chronic psychosocial stress may modify pollution effects on health. Thus, there is increasing interest in refined methods for assessing and incorporating non-chemical exposures, including social stressors, into environmental health research, towards identifying whether and how psychosocial stress interacts with chemical exposures to influence health and health disparities. We present a flexible, GIS-based approach for examining spatial patterns within and among a range of social stressors, and their spatial relationships with air pollution, across New York City, towards understanding their combined effects on health. METHODS: We identified a wide suite of administrative indicators of community-level social stressors (2008-2010), and applied simultaneous autoregressive models and factor analysis to characterize spatial correlations among social stressors, and between social stressors and air pollutants, using New York City Community Air Survey (NYCCAS) data (2008-2009). Finally, we provide an exploratory ecologic analysis evaluating possible modification of the relationship between nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and childhood asthma Emergency Department (ED) visit rates by social stressors, to demonstrate how the methods used to assess stressor exposure (and/or consequent psychosocial stress) may alter model results. RESULTS: Administrative indicators of a range of social stressors (e.g., high crime rate, residential crowding rate) were not consistently correlated (rho?=?- 0.44 to 0.89), nor were they consistently correlated with indicators of socioeconomic position (rho?=?- 0.54 to 0.89). Factor analysis using 26 stressor indicators suggested geographically distinct patterns of social stressors, characterized by three factors: violent crime and physical disorder, crowding and poor access to resources, and noise disruption and property crimes. In an exploratory ecologic analysis, these factors were differentially associated with area-average NO2 and childhood asthma ED visits. For example, only the 'violent crime and disorder' factor was significantly associated with asthma ED visits, and only the 'crowding and resource access' factor modified the association between area-level NO2 and asthma ED visits. CONCLUSIONS: This spatial approach enabled quantification of complex spatial patterning and confounding between chemical and non-chemical exposures, and can inform study design for epidemiological studies of separate and combined effects of multiple urban exposures.
Project description:STUDY OBJECTIVE:Emergency department (ED) crowding and patient boarding are associated with increased mortality and decreased patient satisfaction. This study uses a positive deviance methodology to identify strategies among high-performing, low-performing, and high-performance improving hospitals to reduce ED crowding. METHODS:In this mixed-methods comparative case study, we purposively selected and recruited hospitals that were within the top and bottom 5% of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services case-mix-adjusted ED length of stay and boarding times for admitted patients for 2012. We also recruited hospitals that showed the highest performance improvement in metrics between 2012 and 2013. Interviews were conducted with 60 key leaders (physicians, nurses, quality improvement specialists, and administrators). RESULTS:We engaged 4 high-performing, 4 low-performing, and 4 high-performing improving hospitals, matched on hospital characteristics including geographic designation (urban versus rural), region, hospital occupancy, and ED volume. Across all hospitals, ED crowding was recognized as a hospitalwide issue. The strategies for addressing ED crowding varied widely. No specific interventions were associated with performance in length-of-stay metrics. The presence of 4 organizational domains was associated with hospital performance: executive leadership involvement, hospitalwide coordinated strategies, data-driven management, and performance accountability. CONCLUSION:There are organizational characteristics associated with ED decreased length of stay. Specific interventions targeted to reduce ED crowding were more likely to be successfully executed at hospitals with these characteristics. These organizational domains represent identifiable and actionable changes that other hospitals may incorporate to build awareness of ED crowding.
Project description:The effect of emergency department (ED) crowding on patient care has been studied for several years in the scientific literature. We evaluate the association between ED crowding and short-term mortality and hospitalization in the Lazio region (Italy) using two different measures. A cohort of visits in the Lazio region ED during 2012-2014 was enrolled. Only discharged patients were selected. ED crowding was estimated using two measures, length of stay (LOS), and Emergency Department volume (EDV). LOS was defined as the interval of time from entrance to discharge; EDV was defined at the time of each new entrance in ED. The outcomes under study were mortality and hospitalization within 7 days from ED discharge. A multivariate logistic model was performed (Odds Ratios, ORs, 95% CI). The cohort includes 2,344,572 visits. ED crowding is associated with an increased risk of short-term hospitalization using both LOS and EDV as exposures (LOS 1-2 h: OR?=?1.71, 95% CI 1.66-1.76, LOS 2-5 h: OR?=?1.38, 95% CI 1.34-1.43, LOS?>?5 h OR?=?1.45 95% CI 1.40-1.50 compared to patients with 1 h of LOS; EDV 75°-95° percentile: OR?=?1.02, 95% CI 0.99-1.05 and EDV?>?95° percentile: OR?=?1.06, 95% CI 1.01-1.11 compared to patients with a EDV <?75° percentile upon arrival). Increased risk of short-term mortality is found with increasing level of LOS. High levels of EDV at the time of patients' arrival and longer LOS in ED are associated with greater risks of hospitalization for patients discharged 7 days before. LOS in ED is also associated with an increased risk of mortality.
Project description:<h4>Rationale</h4>The National Quality Forum recently endorsed in-hospital mortality and intensive care unit length of stay (LOS) as quality indicators for patients in the intensive care unit. These measures may be affected by transferring patients to long-term acute care hospitals (LTACs).<h4>Objectives</h4>To quantify the implications of LTAC transfer practices on variation in mortality index and LOS index for patients in academic medical centers.<h4>Methods</h4>We used a cross-sectional study design using data reported to the University HealthSystem Consortium from 2008-2009. Data were from patients who were mechanically ventilated for more than 96 hours.<h4>Measurements and main results</h4>Using linear regression, we measured the association between mortality index and LTAC transfer rate, with the hospital as the unit of analysis. Similar analyses were conducted for LOS index and cost index. A total of 137 hospitals were analyzed, averaging 534 transfers to LTAC per hospital during the study period. Mean±SD in-hospital mortality was 24±6.4%, and observed LOS was 30.4±8.2 days. The mean LTAC transfer rate was 15.7±13.7%. Linear regression demonstrated a significant correlation between transfer rate and mortality index (R2=0.14; P<0.0001) and LOS index (R2=0.43; P<0.0001).<h4>Conclusions</h4>LTAC hospital transfer rate has a significant impact on reported mortality and LOS indices for patients requiring prolonged acute mechanical ventilation. This is an example of factors unrelated to quality of medical care or illness severity that must be considered when interpreting mortality and LOS as quality indicators.