Breaking Down the Silos to Decrease Internal Diversions and Patient Flow Delays

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Abstract

Hospitals strive to admit patients to the units where caregiver competencies align with the patient's condition. When the hospital's census peaks, internal diversions and the associated risks increase, which are intensified when silos exist, as segregated care negatively impacts collaboration and patient safety. In this study, a 600+-bed academic, tertiary care specialty hospital experienced an increase in internal diversions. Within the neuroscience service line, emergent neuroscience transfers from outside hospitals had been declined or internally diverted because of capacity limitations. Formalized processes for improving collaboration between health care providers related to capacity issues were required to decrease internal diversions and improve patient flow and patient safety. A pilot project was conducted on neuroscience units during a process improvement initiative. A hospital-wide internal diversion plan was developed, identifying primary and secondary placement options for all patients requiring hospitalization to support patient flow and patient safety. Forecasting tools were developed to provide units' leadership with current information on expected admissions. Daily capacity huddles were instituted to increase collaboration between patient care units. The interventions trialed during the pilot decreased internal diversions and improved patient flow. The improved collaboration resulted in an 80% decrease in declinations of emergent intensive care unit transfers from outside hospitals due to capacity limitations and a 50% decrease in the number of these patients being internally diverted to alternate intensive care units. The interventions implemented minimized internal diversions and improved patient flow. The transparency of the patient placement process led to an increased collaboration between all participants.

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