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Dome - When every minute counts

June 2011

When every minute counts

Date: June 14, 2011

For its ED patients, Sibley bolsters its commitment to quick, quality care

Hand holding stopwatch

Like many busy hospital emergency departments, Sibley Memorial Hospital’s ED faced the twin dilemma of emergency cases being diverted to other hospitals and long waits for those patients who did make it into the unit. This combination led at times to dissatisfied patients.

But over the past two years, Sibley has improved its Press Ganey patient satisfaction ratings to the 99th percentile, reduced the amount of time that patients spent in the ED, and improved processes such as bedside registration. To make the experience the best possible, medical director Jennifer Abele and nurse manger Therese Pearrell are reinforcing these achievements by maintaining focus on three pillars: safety, quality and flow.

In another refinement of these efforts, Sibley recently launched an initiative that it’s calling the 30-Minute Commitment: a vow to have patients seen by a health care provider within a half-hour of arrival. The national average wait time in an ED is more than 50 minutes. “We always push ourselves to be the best, and this is the next step in doing what’s right for our patients,” Abele notes. “The earlier we see patients, the sooner we can get treatment started.”

Shaving minutes off of Sibley’s wait times, which are already among the nation’s shortest, means taking a careful look at every step in the process. This new commitment includes taking patients directly to exam rooms as soon as a bed is available, completing bedside registration, parallel processing so doctors and nurses can simultaneously collect information, reducing the need for patients to repeat their story to different people, and getting X-rays, scans, blood work and other diagnostic test results back faster. The ED also implemented a “fast track” area to treat and discharge patients with minor complaints more quickly.

“We may be expediting the process, but we can never lose sight of caring for patients with a friendly, personable attitude,” Pearrell says. “We want each patient to feel like they are the only person here.”