Hospitalist-led teams in the ED help reduce diversions, improve patient flow, and provide more timely care to boarded patients, according to a study in the Journal of Hospital Medicine (JHM).
The single-center study, "Hospitalist-Led Medicine Emergency Department Team: Associations with Throughput, Timeliness of Patient Care, and Satisfaction," found a reduction in diversions due to medicine bed capacity of 27% (4.5% to 3%, P=<0.01). Boarded patients were rounded a mean of 2 hours and 9 minutes earlier with hospitalist-led teams; length of stay (LOS) in the ED, LOS in the hospital, and 48-hour returns were unchanged. The study, which took place at 477-bed Denver Health Medical Center (DHMC), assigned a hospitalist and an allied health provider to the ED during dayshifts. At night, ED coverage was rolled into the existing hospitalist duties.
Lead author Smitha R. Chadaga, MD, who works in DHMC's Department of Medicine, believes the study could spur more HM groups to consider dedicating a staffer to the ED. The team in Denver was created to care for medicine patients in the ED awaiting inpatient beds, and to work with nursing supervisors to improve bed management.
"There are numerous places that hospitalists can impact hospital flow, whether it's helping with bed management, providing consultative services to the ED, or caring for boarded patients," Dr. Chadaga says. "Knowing the ins and outs of inpatient medicine really lends itself well to some areas that hospitalists might not have thought about before."
Dr. Chadaga says the research is broadly applicable because HM groups can implement its different features. For example, adding a consultative phone service can help ED physicians determine whether a patient needs to be admitted and could improve patient flow.