Effects of a fast-track area on emergency department performance

J Emerg Med. 2006 Jul;31(1):117-20. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2005.08.019.


To determine if a fast-track area (FTA) would improve Emergency Department (ED) performance, a historical cohort study was performed in the ED of a tertiary care adult hospital in the United States. Two 1-year consecutive periods, pre fast track area (FTA) opening-from February 1, 2001 to January 31, 2002 and after FTA opening-from February 1, 2002 to January 31, 2003 were studied. Daily values of the following variables were obtained from the ED patient tracking system: 1) To assess ED effectiveness: waiting time to be seen (WT), length of stay (LOS); 2) To assess ED care quality: rate of patients left without being seen (LWBS), mortality, and revisits; 3) To assess determinants of patient homogeneity between periods: daily census, age, acuity index, admission rate and emergent patient rate. For comparisons, the Wilcoxon test and the Student's t-test were used to analyze the data. Results showed that despite an increase in the daily census (difference [diff] 8.71, 95% confidence interval [CI] 6 to 11.41), FTA was associated with a decrease in WT (diff -51 min, 95% CI [-56 to -46]), LOS (diff -28 min, 95% CI [-31 to -23]) and LWBS (diff -4.06, 95% CI [-4.48 to -3.46]), without change in the rates of mortality or revisits. In conclusion, the opening of a FTA improved ED effectiveness, measured by decreased WT and LOS, without deterioration in the quality of care provided, measured by rates of mortality and revisits.

MeSH terms

  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Time and Motion Studies
  • Triage