Time can be important in an emergency department especially in a busy Level 1 Trauma Center like MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, when getting patients appropriate care is essential. However, when the quality of an emergency department is judged by a patient's length of stay, time takes on a new meaning.
A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that there is no significant difference between safety-net and non-safety-net hospitals when it comes to the length of stay for emergency patients.
In an accompanying JAMA editorial, Charles Emerman, MD, FAAEM, Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at MetroHealth and Professor of Emergency Medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, discusses the challenges and opportunities of reporting time-to-treatment measures within emergency departments.
"Measuring quality in an emergency department can be very complex," said Dr. Emerman. "Modern departments face many challenges including an increase in patient visits combined with a decreasing number of emergency departments across the country as well as the proposed financial penalties associated with readmissions and key quality measures."
The editorial discusses how quality improvement initiatives for emergency departments should be based on measures that will improve patient outcomes. He believes that quality in emergency departments will improve greatly in hospitals that focus on changes both within and outside of the department along with supplying them with the necessary resources to care for increasing numbers and complexity of patients.