The Emergency Department or the Emergency Room (ER) of a hospital or clinic is perhaps the most important division. The ER department provides surgical and medical care to patients arriving at the hospital in need of immediate care. Medical experts working in this department may respond to these situations quickly within the department itself, such as heart attacks, accidents, severe allergic reactions, and surgery.
Now-a-days with the ever growing number of patients, some hospitals face a common issue of overcrowding in the ER. Even in developed countries like the U.S., over 80% of ERs operate at or over capacity.
COMMON PROBLEMS WITH EMERGENCY CARE
Overcrowding in the ER is the biggest concern. There’s a notable increase in ambulance diversion, raising the rates of fatalities, resulting in the increase of patient dissatisfaction with the healthcare sector.
Though some hospitals accept patients to their ERs over the capacity, it causes issues for the medical staff and patients.
Increased mortality rates, medical errors, human errors, financial losses, increased wait time, and poor performance by the ER staff are the downsides of overcrowding.
Can we keep patients waiting when they need immediate medical care? No, we can’t, and we shouldn’t! More than patient satisfaction, the healthcare sector should focus on patient safety.
OTHER COMMON PROBLEMS IN EMERGENCY ROOMS INCLUDE:
- Patients don’t receive immediate medical care
- Medical staff should be able to perform an immediate surgery or any other immediate medical care on an injured person but it is difficult to allocated room when the ER is overcrowded.
- Decreasing customer satisfaction
- Patient satisfaction is a prime component of value-based healthcare. Patients walking out the door without having received medical care or bad service leads to customer dissatisfaction.
- Poor patient health
- Immediate medical care is necessary for saving lives. Failing to perform urgent health care on a patient at the right time can lead to permanent health impairments. Decreased productivity in overcrowded ERs can cause poor patient health in the long run.
- Financial losses
- Private hospitals earn money by providing patients with prompt medical care. Patients leaving the hospital without having received medical care leads to long-term financial losses.
- Increased mortality rates
- Excessive wait times significantly increases the mortality rate. In some situations, even a delay of a few minutes in medical care can lead to the death of the patient.
- Less productive medical staff
- Doctors and nurses are humans, and they have limitations, no matter the situation. A congested ER can stress out and exhausted the medical staff, leading to human errors and less productivity.
Human factors and workplace factors are two prime causes of medical errors in the healthcare sector.
ENHANCING ER PERFORMANCE
Clinicians working in the emergency department require the necessary resources to perform well. Spacious ERs, enough medical equipment, sufficient staff, and advanced healthcare solutions can improve the overall performance of the ER, including the medical staff.
Though the emergency room is the most important division, hospital leaderships sometimes give less attention to it. The emergency department shouldn’t operate in isolation. The hospital leadership can use resources, such as records on the number of patients visiting the ER, wait times, staff numbers, and successful surgery numbers, to determine the overall efficiency.
Governments across the globe also should pay attention to these factors. For example, a considerable percentage of hospitals across the globe struggle during global pandemics. If the world has efficient ERs, we can lower fatality rates during these pandemics.
EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT IMPROVEMENTS
Advanced technology can transform emergency rooms and increase overall patient satisfaction. The medical staff should have advanced resources to use and provide a more reliable service for patients. We can think of many areas that can be improved.
1) ED AUTOMATION
The following image shows a range of problems an emergency department faces:
ER automation can sort out most of these problems as patient wait time is a major concern today. A single person can monitor the entire ER through a patient management system. The emergency department can keep a track record of patient admissions, discharge, and transfers, and the patient management system updates the figures automatically.
ER automation reduces the workload on all clinicians, allowing them to concentrate on treating patients as soon as possible. As manual recording of patients’ data takes extra time, an automated patient management system lowers the wait time.
2) CONTROLLING THE PATIENT FLOW
Overcrowding emergency rooms happen as patients with non-acute issues seeking treatment in it. The previous image explains the severity of this problem. For more information about overcrowding emergency rooms, read – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3540619/.
The main patient management system of the hospital has to play a crucial role here. Identify patients with acute health conditions and direct them to the emergency room, and treat other patients in other departments, such as the OPD. And this is where the importance of connecting the ER’s patient management system with that of the hospital becomes a necessity. Effective communication between the ER and the hospital’s main desk can minimize confusion about the availability of each department.
3) TECHNOLOGY FOR MINIMIZING HUMAN ERRORS
This is more of an advanced concept. What if hospitals can perform surgeries using robots? Or, at least, we can improve current healthcare equipment.
Many doctors and nurses were under so much stress during the COVID-19 Outbreak. They didn’t have sufficient equipment to treat patients; for example, a ventilator can’t provide oxygen for many patients at once, and in most hospitals they had a limited number of ventilators.
Imagine doctors and nurses not being able to treat patients who are dying without enough equipment in the ER. Can they concentrate on their job under such mental pressure?
Here’s a video that went viral, that shows the situation of doctors and nurses treating patients during the COVID-19 pandemic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdqMd-070hs.
Seeing patients dying stresses out doctors and nurses, but we can change it by developing advanced medical equipment that supports these heroes. It could be even something general, such as a ventilator that can provide oxygen to many patients at once.
The emergency department of a hospital is a real lifesaver. Overcrowding, patient wait times, lack of medical equipment, and staffing are some of the common problems. Advanced healthcare solutions can sort out these issues. CSI provides a comprehensive system that automates all the departments in a hospital, including its emergency department.