Reducing ER Wait Times
Jan 15, 2014
Two recent fatalities have once again thrust the issue of emergency room wait times into the spotlight. Both men who tragically passed away were on their way home after being discharged from hospital. News reports have speculated that hospitals have been discharging patients to reduce backlogs in ER’s.
A proactive and preventative approach would contribute to reducing wait times and enhancing the quality of service provided to the public, and would include the following components:
Community Paramedicine: Tremendous success has been achieved by stationing paramedics at the Main Street Project, dedicating paramedics to two inner-city personal care homes, The Salvation Army Building and the most common callers to the 911 system. In the first five months Main Street Project paramedics saw 8,000 patients, out of which only 161 were sent to an emergency room. These programs produce results and should be expanded.
Intelligent Destination: Sometimes it makes more sense to send someone with a minor injury to the Misericordia Urgent Care Centre, the Pan Am Clinic or Quick Care clinics and other walk-in clinics. Every time a patient is redirected from an ER to more appropriate care more ambulances are available to meet the needs of the most critical calls.
911 Calls Sent to the Right Service: The city is already working with protocols that allow 911 to determine if a call is best handled by the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service or if it is more appropriately transferred to Health Links or some other service. This approach will reduce unnecessary ambulance trips to Winnipeg ERs and provide better care to those who need it.
More Community Education: One of the more frequent reasons for calls for help are falls in the home. These calls are often the result of residents’ tripping over loose carpet in a hallway, kitchen or bathroom. More education in schools, seniors homes and elsewhere can help reduce the number of slips and falls and reduce the pressure on our ERs. Fewer trips to ERs mean that more EMS resources are available when they are most needed.
While there is no single quick fix to the complex problems facing emergency services, paramedics are urging decision makers to consider proactive, cost-efficient measures that will have an impact on ER wait times.
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