Objective: To determine the effect of establishing an emergency department observation ward (OW) on admission numbers, average length of stay (ALOS) for the entire hospital and overall bed days for conditions commonly treated in the OW.Setting: Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH), Perth, a tertiary referral teaching hospital.Design: Retrospective analysis of routinely collected hospital data for the 10 most common diagnosis-related group (DRG) categories of patients discharged from the OW for the financial years 1995-96 to 1998-99. Comparison of these data with those for adult patients at the other Perth teaching hospitals over the same period.Main outcome measures: For patients in the 10 most common DRGs: numbers of admissions to the OW compared with other inpatient wards; total number of patients admitted to the hospital compared with total bed days; ALOS at SCGH compared with other Perth teaching hospitals.Results: Increased admissions to the OW were paralleled by a decrease in admissions for the same DRG codes to other inpatient wards. ALOS remained approximately the same from 1995-96 to 1998-99 for patients in the OW (one day) and other inpatient wards (4.38 to 4.20 days). However, overall ALOS for patients in these DRGs fell by over a third (from 3.97 to 2.59 days) over this time. The total number of patients in these DRGs treated by the hospital increased by 19% over the four years, but the total number of bed days fell by 23%. By contrast, the ALOS for patients in the same DRGs treated at the other Perth teaching hospitals rose 8% (from 2.12 to 2.28 days).Conclusion: Establishment of a formal emergency department OW results in the more efficient management of certain groups of patients, with a decrease in overall hospital bed days and length of stay.
|Journal||Medical Journal of Australia|
|Publication status||Published - 2000|