Physician First Emergency Department

August 17, 2009

CGRMC announces shorter waits for ER patients

A visit to the Emergency Department (ED) at CGRMC is likely to result in a somewhat different experience than in times past. August 2009 marks the launch of the Physician First Emergency Department initiative. At Casa Grande Regional Medical Center Emergency Department an average of 100 patients are seen on a daily basis. As anyone who has visited an ER in the past can attest the emergency department can be a very busy place and often the wait for treatment can take many hours. And while no one ever wants to go to the emergency department, the experience is made more acceptable by receiving good quality care in a timely fashion.

ER waiting has been a nationwide problem with many, if not most, busy emergency department routinely experiencing long waits for patient care. In recent years, organizations have begun to recognize the ER as the front door of the hospital and the place where the majority of patients who are admitted receive their initial treatment. At CGRMC we recognize that fact and have committed to improving that front end service.

To understand the reasons for ER waiting, it seems practical to look at how the Emergency Department works and what are the key factors which affect the length of time it takes for treatment. When a large number of patients arrive in a short period of time, extended waiting is more likely to occur. We know that there are times of the day when patients are more likely to arrive at the emergency department seeking treatment. Many sick patients in the Emergency Department at one time will increase the length of time for treatment. When treatment rooms in the ER are occupied, the wait is longer regardless of whether or not those patients are waiting to be admitted or waiting for results before being released to go home.

To address the above issues, CGRMC leadership looked at several factors. One of the major factors evaluated was patient arrival patterns and searching for opportunities to better adjust staffing. CGRMC leadership also looked at how early in the visit the physician becomes involved in the patient’s care. The primary goal of the new process is to have the patient seen by a physician within 30 minutes of arrival. As a result, a patient seeking treatment in the CGRMC Emergency Department should notice an improvement in the total length of time it takes to receive treatment and a higher likelihood of being seen within 30 minutes of arrival.

The next 30 days will bring additional changes that will allow us to better meet our goals. Staffing changes beginning in September 2009 will not only increase the number of patients being seen within 30 minutes, but also improve the collaboration of the team by better matching staffing to the peak times when patients arrive. Patients can also expect a more team-based approach to care, with several team members actively participating in their care to arrive at the best solution. Later in the fall of 2009, the availability of additional inpatient beds will decrease the likelihood that a patient will wait in the ER before being transferred to an inpatient unit.

The emergency department is always looking for ways to shorten the time you spend in the hospital. We are excited about the upcoming changes and the continued improvement of our services. We consider your feedback invaluable and encourage you to call or write with comments.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact the Emergency Services Nursing Director at 520-381-6553 or the Medical Director of Emergency Services at 520-381-6358.