Clin Exp Emerg Med.  2016 Jun;3(2):63-68. 10.15441/ceem.16.127.

Improving emergency department patient flow

  • 1Emergency Department, Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, West Yorkshire, UK.


Emergency departments (ED) face significant challenges in delivering high quality and timely patient care on an ever-present background of increasing patient numbers and limited hospital resources. A mismatch between patient demand and the ED's capacity to deliver care often leads to poor patient flow and departmental crowding. These are associated with reduction in the quality of the care delivered and poor patient outcomes. A literature review was performed to identify evidence-based strategies to reduce the amount of time patients spend in the ED in order to improve patient flow and reduce crowding in the ED. The use of doctor triage, rapid assessment, streaming and the co-location of a primary care clinician in the ED have all been shown to improve patient flow. In addition, when used effectively point of care testing has been shown to reduce patient time in the ED. Patient flow and departmental crowding can be improved by implementing new patterns of working and introducing new technologies such as point of care testing in the ED.


Emergency department; Patient flow; Improvement
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