Impact of a psychiatric unit's daily discharge rates on emergency department flow

Tarun Bastiampillai, Geoff Schrader, Rohan Dhillon, Jorg Strobel, Niranjan Bidargaddi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Objective: To investigate relationships between time spent in the emergency department (ED) in patients requiring admission to the psychiatric ward, the day of the week of presentation and the daily number of discharges from the psychiatric ward.Method: Retrospective analysis of patient flow as a function of day of week, time of day (a.m., p.m.), number of patients requiring admission and number of ward discharges over a one-year period, for all mental health related presentations to the ED of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide, South Australia, before their admission to the psychiatric inpatient facility.Results: The time spent by patients in the ED waiting for admission to the psychiatric ward was significantly greater on weekends. There were significantly fewer discharges from the psychiatric ward during weekends compared with weekdays. The average time spent by patients in the ED requiring admission to the psychiatric ward for those days when there were vacant beds was 17.9 hours (SD=14.5). More people presented to the ED with a psychiatric diagnosis in the afternoons. There was a significant inverse correlation between the time spent by patients in the ED requiring admission to the psychiatric ward per day and the number of discharges from the psychiatric ward per day.Conclusion: These findings demonstrate that patient flow is significantly slower on weekends because of fewer discharges from the ward, leading to longer times spent in the ED before ward transfer. Waiting times in the ED were very substantially greater than the proposed 4-hour target even when vacant beds were available, raising considerable doubt about that target being realistic for psychiatric patients.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)117-120
    Number of pages4
    JournalAustralasian Psychiatry
    Volume20
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012

    Keywords

    • discharge rates
    • emergency department
    • length of stay
    • patient flow
    • time spent in ED

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