Introduction: Emergency department (ED) crowding is associated with increased mortality and delays in care. We developed a rapid admission pathway targeting critically-ill trauma patients in the ED. This study investigates the sustainability of the pathway, as well as its effectiveness in times of increased ED crowding.
Materials & methods: This was a retrospective cohort study assessing the admission of critically-ill trauma patients with and without the use of a rapid admission pathway from 2013 to 2018. We accessed demographic and clinical data from trauma registry data and ED capacity logs. Statistical analyses included univariate and multivariate testing.
Results: A total of 1700 patients were included. Of this cohort, 434 patients were admitted using the rapid admission pathway, whereas 1266 were admitted using the traditional pathway. In bivariate analysis, mean ED LOS was 1.54 h (95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 1.41, 1.66) with the rapid pathway, compared with 5.88 h (95% CI: 5.64, 6.12) with the traditional pathway (p < 0.01). We found no statistically significant relationship between rapid admission pathway use and survival to hospital discharge. During times of increased crowding, rapid pathway use continued to be associated with reduction in ED LOS (p < 0.01). The reduction in ED LOS was sustained when comparing initial results (2013-2014) to recent data (2015-2018).
Conclusion: This study found that a streamlined process to admit critically-ill trauma patients is sustainable and associated with reduction in ED LOS. As ED crowding remains pervasive, these findings support restructured care processes to limit prolonged ED boarding times for critically-ill patients.
Keywords: Emergency Medicine; Resuscitation; Surgery; Trauma; Trauma Care Delivery.
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