Are Split Flow and Provider in Triage Models in the Emergency Department Effective in Reducing Discharge Length of Stay?

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Abstract

A quality improvement (QI) project was completed early in 2015 to evaluate the split flow model of care delivery and a provider in triage model within a newly constructed emergency department. The QI project compared 2 emergency departments of similar volumes, one that splits the patient flow and employs a provider in triage model and the other that blends the patient flow and employs a traditional nurse triage model. A total of 68,603 patients were included in this project. The purpose of the split flow model is to create a second flow stream of patients through the emergency department, parallel to the regular acute/critical care flow stream, for patients with problems that are not complex. Specific patient outcomes that were evaluated for the purpose of this QI project were door to discharge or discharge length of stay (DLOS) for all ED patients. The provider in triage model enhances patient triage assessment, as well as patient flow within the emergency department, by allowing patients to be evaluated by an ED provider immediately at the point of triage when the patient first presents to the emergency department. The QI project demonstrated that the split flow model alone reduced DLOS for all ED patients, and when coupled with the provider in triage model, a greater reduction in DLOS, as well as an improvement in front-end throughput metrics, was realized.

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