Introduction: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of the newly developed fast track (FT) area in a University-affiliated emergency department. The goals of the FT unit included reducing patients' length of stay, improving patients' satisfaction, and decreasing ED overcrowding.
Methods: An exploratory descriptive design used to investigate length of stay in the emergency department, the rate of patients who left without being seen, unscheduled return visits to the emergency department within 72 hours of being seen, and patient satisfaction.
Results: During the evaluation period, 5995 patients were seen in the ED fast track area. The average time patients spent in the emergency department was 4.36 hours. The average time in room for the FT area was 1.97 hours. The left-without-being-seen rate for this time period for the main emergency department was 7%; the rate for the FT area was 4%. Additionally, 100% of respondents who completed a patient satisfaction survey in the FT area rated the care received by the nurse practitioner (NP) as good or excellent.
Conclusions: Although the average time in room and overall length of stay did not meet expectations, patients did move more quickly through the department after the addition of the FT unit. Patient satisfaction data suggested that the FT staffed by NPs is a welcome addition to the emergency department. The findings provide direction for the future study of NP utilization in the emergency department.