Length of time emergency department patients wait for a hospital bed after a decision to admit | HQCA Focus

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Length of time emergency department patients wait for a hospital bed after a decision to admit

Time from when it’s decided a patient will stay in the hospital to when they leave the emergency department to go to a hospital bed. (see data dictionary)

Alberta Health Services, Analytics. “Alberta Emergency Department (Urban) Operational & Performance Dashboard.” (2018) [Dashboard showing median and 90th percentile results for the length of time between a decision to admit and when the patient leaves the emergency department, by facility, month, and quarter].  AHS Tableau Reporting Platform. Retrieved from https://tableau.ahs.ca

What do you see?

  • Are there any trends over time at the emergency department(s) where you work or would be most likely to visit?
  • Are there differences in wait times between hospitals of the same type (e.g., Large Urban)?

Why is it meaningful?

  • Is there a relationship between this data and another healthcare area?
  • Do you see successes worth highlighting or opportunities for improvement?

Understanding "length of time emergency department patients wait for a hospital bed after a decision to admit"

Not all Albertans who visit the emergency department are admitted to the hospital. Many patients receive treatment in emergency and are able to return home. If the medical team decides you need hospital care, you will be “admitted” to hospital, but often patients need to wait in the emergency department for a hospital bed to become available. Until then, you are considered an “admitted” patient even though your care is being delivered in the emergency department.

It is important to healthcare quality that patients receive their care in the right setting. This is why the length of time admitted patients wait in the emergency department is important to understand. Emergency departments are not intended to provide the same types of services as a hospital. They are set up to assess and treat patients and move them to an appropriate level of care – whether it is discharging them home with follow-up care instructions, or into the hospital for additional care, like a surgery. Services like meals and individual washrooms are not readily available in the emergency department. If patients who need to be in the hospital are continually waiting a long time in the emergency department for a hospital bed, it may be linked to hospital occupancy and there is an opportunity to ask why, and see if there are ways to improve the wait times.
Results for November 2019 to March 2020 are not available for the University of Alberta Hospital and the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

Alberta Quality Matrix for Health

The Health Quality Council of Alberta uses the Alberta Quality Matrix for Health as a way of organizing information and thinking around the complexity of the healthcare system. This measure can be used as input to assess the emergency department’s performance in these dimensions of quality: Accessibility and Efficiency.