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Research to improve patient flow and care

Tuesday January 14, 2020

A Western Sussex research team has attracted funding from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine for a pioneering study to develop a tool to measure crowding in emergency departments and improve patient flow. The aim is to help develop interventions to make sure the patients at highest risk receive the care they need, regardless of demand. The project is a continuation of two years of work led by quality and improvement research fellow Dr Duncan Hargreaves, working alongside emergency medicine consultant Colin Dewar, ITU consultant Luke Hodgson, and the performance team.

Our aim is to make it work not only in our hospitals, but across the local health economy and beyond

After winning nearly £9,000 for the research, Luke said: “We know morbidity and mortality increase as emergency departments become more crowded, but without a reliable tool, we don’t have a good starting point for improving our understanding and doing something to address it.” Over the last two years, the team has worked to resolve statistical issues in existing models to create something more accurate and provide a real-time measure of emergency department crowding. Using nurse and doctor opinion to evaluate the effectiveness, they built on an existing system called NEDOCS, and presented their findings at the European Congress of Emergency Medicine in Prague.

Colin said: “We want to be able to apply interventions and assess the impact they have on crowding. Ultimately, this work will help improve patient flow, not only in the Emergency Department, but throughout the hospital and make sure the way we work is tailored to the needs of our patients. Our aim is to make it work not only in our hospitals, but across the local health economy and beyond.” Colin added: “I’ve always loved the research bit of my job. Medicine is a science. I like to measure things, experiment with them, play around with them and see what happens. When we started looking at this, we wanted to compare our sepsis database with a crowding measure, but now we are developing a tool with the potential to have a significant impact not only on our patients, but on emergency departments nationally and internationally.”


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