Health Sciences North has achieved the greatest improvement in emergency department wait times among Ontario's teaching hospitals, according to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
The emergency department length of stay for patients in the 90th percentile was 9.8 hours in 2013/14, compared to 11.2 hours for the provincial average.
The 90th percentile length of stay refers to the maximum amount of time nine out of 10 patients spend in the emergency department being diagnosed, receiving treatment, or waiting for a hospital bed. Most patients spend less time, while one out of 10 patients will spend more.
“This improvement in our treatment times is a credit to the hard work and efforts of the entire ED (emergency department) care team,” said Dr. Rob Lepage, medical director of the emergency department, in a release. “That said, we are constantly looking at making improvements that will further enhance care and reduce our treatment times.”
Over the last fiscal year, Health Sciences North's emergency department visits increased to 66,000, up 6,000 compared to the previous year.
The emergency department care team put in place a number of measures to improve wait times, including a “see and treat” area for patients with less serious conditions, an acute observation area for patients with specific, more urgent health concerns, and daily huddles where staff discuss the patient load for the day and how best to meet any challenges that arise.
“ED wait times are affected by how safely and smoothly we can transition patients from the ED to the inpatient floors, and then back into the community, and how well we can avoid readmissions to the ED or a hospital bed,” said David McNeil, Health Sciences North's vice-president of clinical programs and chief nursing officer, in a release.
“Our clinical programs and community partners have done a wonderful job of transitioning patients back home safely, which eases the pressures on the ED. There is always room for improvement, but we do feel that we’re heading in the right direction.”