Emergency department aims to shorten wait times

Emergency department aims to shorten wait times

In response to the increasing number of emergency patients, the Municipal Hospital has transformed its former Central Emergency Department with short-stay emergency ward on Salzdahlumer Strabe into an independent clinic for emergency medicine and general internal medicine. Chief physician is Dr. Christoph Haedicke, who has already led the emergency department as head department physician since 2012.

More staff and faster doctor contact to shorten waiting times from autumn. A specialist will also carry out an initial assessment in non-urgent cases and explain the further procedure to the patient in the emergency room.

Until now, a specially trained nurse alone had the task of classifying patients into groups for treatment according to urgency (triage system).

"I expect a lot from this," says Dr. Thomas Bartkiewicz, medical director of the hospital. Immediate specialist contact should also give patients a sense of security. "The first contact decides whether a patient feels perceived and taken care of."

Waiting times are also to be shortened by this so-called first-view concept – the rapid specialist contact. Because a physician can already initiate the necessary diagnostics, such as blood sampling or CT, at the outset – even in less urgent cases. What happens today only after possibly hours of waiting time. Earlier diagnostics would reduce waiting times by around 70 minutes, Bartkiewicz refers to studies.

Every year, around 1,000 more patients come to the internal emergency department of the hospital on Salzdahlumer Strabe – almost 32,000 in 2016.

Just last week, the emergency department reported record numbers of more than a hundred patients a day. Bartkiewicz speaks of a "high volume of patients with serious illnesses." For patients classified as less urgent, this can result in waiting times of up to eight hours or even longer.

The hospital management is combining the formation of an independent clinic with a change in strategy: the number of doctors will be increased, for example. Instead of 7, there are now 9.5 residents. In September, Bartkiewicz hopes to hire another senior physician. It is not easy to find the necessary personnel – which is why there can be delays, he says.

Also in September, the Medical Director expects to relieve the burden on the inpatient emergency room through a hitherto unique model project in cooperation with the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians: Since the number of patients who actually need to be treated as outpatients peaks in the morning hours rather than at night, for example, two general practitioners will be recruited to provide a "primary care physician's initial assessment" of outpatients who come to the emergency room – a practical extension of the on-call service provided by office-based panel physicians, who provide medical care in the outpatient area outside of practice hours, i.e., in the evenings, at night and on weekends. The on-call doctor's office for outpatient emergencies is located in the hospital adjacent to the inpatient emergency room.

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