A program to reduce discharge delays in a neonatal intensive care unit.
Our hypothesis was that a program designed to identify the causes of discharge delays would reduce the length of stay in our neonatal intensive care unit. We reviewed every admission from January, 1994, to December, 1995. A discharge delay was defined as any delay not related to illness after the infant was cleared for release. Discharge delays were divided into the following categories: primary healthcare team, organizational, discharge planning, family, monitor related, and other. Potential discharge delays were identified daily according to established criteria. Actual discharge delays were reviewed monthly at a staff meeting attended by representatives of a multidisciplinary team. We identified 116 discharge delays, which accounted for 480 patient days. Eighty-three discharge delays accounted for 302 patient days in 1994, and 33 discharge delays for 178 patient days in 1995. Discharge delays ranged from 1 to 34 days, with an average of 4.1 days added per patient. Infants with discharge delays had a case mix index of 9.32. The average case mix index for the neonatal intensive care unit was 6.25 during 1994 and 5.18 during 1995, an average of 5.71 for the review period. Forty-four percent of infants who had discharge delays had private insurance, 55% had Medicaid, and 1% had self-payment arrangements. Eighty-eight of 116 discharge delays were caused by circumstances beyond the control of the primary care team. An additional 25 of 116 discharge delays were the result of our policy requiring 48 hours free of apnea-bradycardia alarms before discharge. Discharge delays for 1994 cost $226,298 ($749/day). For 1995, discharge delays cost $41,553 ($233/day) for a total cost of $262,431. Total savings in 1995 versus 1994 was $184,745 ($516/day). Despite the low birth weight and relatively severe illnesses of the infants, we believe that a focused team approach and monitoring for potential discharge delays can result in considerable reduction in hospital stay and cost. (+info)
Patient waiting times in a physician's office.
This observational study measured waiting times, appointment durations, and scheduling variables of a single family practice physician. Waiting time and appointment duration in four sequential groups of sessions were compared using analysis of variance; each group used different scheduling templates. Groups 1 and 2 used a 15-minute base interval; group 3 used a 20-minute base interval. Observations for group 4 were collected at a different health center using a 15-minute base interval. Scheduling variables were correlated with waiting time using correlation coefficients, and data were collected on 1783 appointments. The best waiting time (mean +/- SD) was 17.33 +/- 19.19 minutes. The mean appointment duration for this group was 17.99 +/- 7.97 minutes. The F statistic comparing the four groups of sessions for waiting times was 34.14 and for appointment duration was 37.37, both of which are significant (P < 0.001). The Spearman correlation coefficient for waiting time with queue was 0.2474 (P < 0.001). The Spearman correlation coefficients for mean waiting time and lateness of starting a session (0.4530), patients per hour (0.3461), and patients per session (0.3674) were all significant (P < 0.001). Both scheduling and patient flow affect patient waiting times. The best schedule would consist of shorter sessions that started on time and were extended to accommodate extra patients rather than adding in patients and crowding the schedule. In addition to reducing the actual waiting times, the perception of waiting can be managed to minimize patient dissatisfaction. (+info)
Emergency surgery: half a day does make a difference.
The emergency operating patterns in a district general hospital were significantly altered by the introduction of an afternoon emergency theatre list co-ordinated by a consultant anaesthetist. Before the introduction of the list, 88% of emergency operations were carried out after 17.00, with 40% of cases waiting until after 22.00. Introduction of the emergency session significantly reduced the operations performed after 17.00 to 53%, with only 12% being delayed until after 22.00. (+info)
Impact of the introduction of a daily trauma list on out-of-hours operating.
The British Orthopaedic Association have recommended that all hospitals should have daily, consultant-led, trauma lists. We have prospectively examined the introduction of a daily trauma list on the out-of-hours operating and the management of trauma in one district hospital. The data collected were compared with a corresponding 6-month period in 1996. It was found that the mean usage of the list was 2 h 38 min; 10% of lists were not used. There has been a significant reduction in the number of operations performed out-of-hours, and also a significant reduction in the amount of out-of-hours operating after midnight. More complex cases have also been operated on in normal working hours. The initial introduction of a daily trauma list has had a significant impact on the total amount of out-of-hours operating and has increased consultant supervision of the management of trauma, thereby increasing the quality of care for these patients. (+info)
When should this patient be seen again?
CONTEXT: The decision about when to ask a patient to return to the clinic for his or her next visit is common to all outpatient encounters in longitudinal care. It directly affects provider workloads and has a potentially great impact on health care costs and outcomes. GENERAL QUESTION: What are the effects of lengthening or shortening revisit intervals (the recommended period between one visit and the next) on health status and health care costs? SPECIFIC RESEARCH CHALLENGE: How can we change the average revisit interval while preserving provider input for individual patients? PROPOSED APPROACH: Patients could be randomly assigned to either short or long revisit intervals. So that provider input would be preserved, providers would select from among three discrete categories of revisit intervals: near-term (1 to 2 months); intermediate-term (2 to 4 months); and long-term (4 to 8 months). On the basis of randomization, patients would receive appointments at either the lower or the upper bound of the category selected. POTENTIAL DIFFICULTIES: Because blinding would be almost impossible, providers might "game" randomization at subsequent visits. ALTERNATE APPROACHES: A comparison of shorter and longer revisit intervals might be achieved with less direct approaches. In one such approach, patients would be randomly assigned to 1) having an appointment made immediately after the initial visit or 2) calling back for an appointment according to the interval recommended by the provider. In another approach, patient panel size would be held constant and providers would be randomly assigned to either an increased or a reduced number of clinic sessions. (+info)
Surgical outpatient clinics: are we allowing enough time?
BACKGROUND: Performance management initiatives, such as the UK's Patient's Charter, are creating pressure for patients to be seen earlier at out patient clinics, thus increasing clinic workloads. There is, however, little information about whether this can be absorbed, either by utilizing spare capacity or by more efficient use of time, or whether it is likely to affect patient care adversely. METHODS: Nine surgical clinics, run by four general surgeons, in an English district general hospital were studied during a typical week. Clinic schedules and numbers invited to attend were extracted from clinic records. An observer recorded the actual time each patient spent with the surgeon to the nearest 5 seconds. Scheduled and actual times of commencement and completion of clinics were also recorded. RESULTS: The number of patients booked to attend each clinic varied from 11 to 82 (mean 37). The median consultation for new patients was 4.3 minutes and for follow-up patients it was 3 minutes. Consultants spent a median 2.7 minutes with patients whereas junior staff spent 4.2 minutes. These aggregate results conceal considerable variation between surgeons, even though the scheduled time available was similar. The median time spent with new patients by one consultant was 1.3 minutes and by another 13.1 minutes. Seven of the nine clinics overran their scheduled time (by up to 55 minutes). All doctors, with one exception, arrived late for the clinics (range 10 minutes early to 30 minutes late). The first patient was invariably seen after the scheduled starting time for the clinic (mean 17 minutes, range 5-50 minutes) and the median interval between a doctor arriving and seeing their first patient was 10.6 minutes. Overall, only 50% of the time spent by doctors at the clinics was with patients. IMPLICATIONS: The amount of time spent by patients with surgeons is already so short as to cause concern about both the appropriateness and value of consultations. It is unreasonable to increase workload further. There is a clear need for outpatient clinics to be managed, with regular examination of what is taking place and how long it takes. Only then will it be possible to tailor schedules to the actual requirements of the service. (+info)
Improving the repeat prescribing process in a busy general practice. A study using continuous quality improvement methodology.
PROBLEM: A need to improve service to patients by reducing the time wasted by reception staff so that the 48 hour target for processing repeat prescription requests for patient collection could be achieved. DESIGN: An interprofessional team was established within the practice to tackle the area of repeat prescribing which had been identified as a priority by practice reception staff. The team met four times in three months and used continuous quality improvement (CQI) methodology (including the Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle) with the assistance of an external facilitator. BACKGROUND AND SETTING: A seven partner practice serving the 14,000 patients on the northern outskirts of Bournemouth including a large council estate and a substantial student population from Bournemouth University. The repeat prescribing process is computerised. KEY MEASURES FOR IMPROVEMENT: Reducing turn around times for repeat prescription requests. Reducing numbers of requests which need medical records to be checked to issue the script. Feedback to staff about the working of the process. STRATEGIES FOR CHANGE: Using a Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle for guidance, the team decided to (a) coincide repeat medications and to record on the computer drugs prescribed during visits; (b) give signing of prescriptions a higher priority and bring them to doctors' desks at an agreed time; and (c) move the site for printing prescriptions to the reception desk so as to facilitate face to face queries. EFFECTS OF CHANGE: Prescription turnaround within 48 hours increased from 95% to 99% with reduced variability case to case and at a reduced cost. The number of prescriptions needing records to be looked at was reduced from 18% to 8.6%. This saved at least one working day of receptionist time each month. Feedback from all staff within the practice indicated greatly increased satisfaction with the newly designed process. LESSONS LEARNT: The team's experience suggests that a combination of audit and improvement methodology offers a powerful way to learn about, and improve, practice. The interventions used by the team not only produced measurable and sustainable improvements but also helped the team to learn about the cost of achieving the results and provided them with tools to accomplish the aims. The importance of feedback to all staff about CQI measures was also recognised. (+info)
Day surgery in Scotland: patient satisfaction and outcomes.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate patients' views on the process and outcome of day surgery in Scotland, and to study patients' satisfaction with care in a range of specific procedures. DESIGN: Questionnaires completed by a census of day case surgery patients within a band of 25 procedures under the umbrella of five broad groups: (1) general surgery; (2) urology; (3) gynaecology; (4) orthopaedics; (5) ear, nose, and throat; ophthalmology. SETTING: 13 hospitals in six health board areas in Scotland. SUBJECTS: During the period 1995-6, 5069 day case patients were asked to complete a questionnaire within two weeks of their operation and discharge from hospital. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Arrangements before admission; immediate postoperative symptoms and complications; problems experienced after discharge; readmission after discharge. RESULTS: A response rate of 68% was obtained from 13 sites ranging from 43% to 82%. The overall satisfaction score was 85. A total of 894 patients (26%) experienced pain after surgery and 783 (23%) had relatively minor medical problems after discharge. In total, 265 (7.8%) patients were readmitted to hospital after discharge. Few notable differences existed between specialties or hospitals in terms of satisfaction scores, although notable pain was experienced more frequently in gynaecology and general surgery patients. Readmission was more common for urological procedures. CONCLUSION: Overall, patient satisfaction with day case surgery was high. Dissatisfaction was largely related to waiting times between admission, operation, and discharge. The amount of pain experienced also had a notable impact on the level of patient satisfaction. Day surgery is not without complications, with 26% of patients experiencing notable degrees of pain; 23% having minor medical problems after discharge; and 8% of respondents having to reattend hospital with problems relating to their original operations. (+info)