‘Delayed discharges and boarders’: a 2-year study of the relationship between patients experiencing delayed discharges from an acute hospital and boarding of admitted patients in a crowded ED

Mustafa, F. et al. Emergency Medicine Journal. Published Online: 27 June 2016


Objective: Many believe that hospital crowding manifesting in the ED with the boarding of admitted patients is a result of significant numbers of acute hospital beds being occupied by patients awaiting discharge to nursing homes, step-down facilities or home with or without additional support. This observational study was performed to establish the actual relationship between boarders in the ED and patients experiencing delayed discharge.

Methods: Data relating to the number of patients in the ED and their points in their patient pathway were entered into a logbook on a daily basis by the most senior doctor on duty. 630 days of observations of patients boarded in the ED were compared with the number of inpatients with delayed discharges, obtained from the hospital information system, to see if large numbers of inpatients with delayed discharges are associated with crowding in the ED.

Results: Two years of data showed an annual ED census of more than 47 000, with a daily mean ED admission rate of 29.85 patients and a daily mean ED boarding figure of 29 patients. A mean of 15.4% of the 823 hospital beds was occupied by patients with delayed discharges, and the hospital ran at, or near, full capacity (99%–105%) all the time. Results obtained highlighted a statistically significant relationship between delayed discharges in the hospital and ED crowding as a result of boarders (p value<0.001, with a regression coefficient of 0.16, 95% CI 0.12 to 0.20). The study also showed that the number of boarders was related to the number of ED admissions in the preceding 24 hours (p=0.036, with a regression coefficient of 0.14, 95% CI 0.05 to 0.28).

Conclusions: Delayed hospital discharges significantly contribute to crowding in the ED. Healthcare systems should target timely discharge of inpatients experiencing delayed discharge in an urgent and efficient manner to improve timely access to acute hospital beds for patients requiring emergency admission.

Read the full article here




Quantifying alcohol-related emergency admissions in a UK tertiary referral hospital

Vardy, J. et al. BMJ Open. 2016. 6:e010005


Objectives: Alcohol is responsible for a proportion of emergency admissions to hospital, with acute alcohol intoxication and chronic alcohol dependency (CAD) implicated. This study aims to quantify the proportion of hospital admissions through our emergency department (ED) which were thought by the admitting doctor to be (largely or partially) a result of alcohol consumption.

Setting: ED of a UK tertiary referral hospital.

Participants: All ED admissions occurring over 14 weeks from 1 September to 8 December 2012. Data obtained for 5497 of 5746 admissions (95.67%).

Primary outcome measures: Proportion of emergency admissions related to alcohol as defined by the admitting ED clinician.

Secondary outcome measures: Proportion of emergency admissions due to alcohol diagnosed with acute alcohol intoxication or CAD according to ICD-10 criteria.

Results: 1152 (21.0%, 95% CI 19.9% to 22.0%) of emergency admissions were thought to be due to alcohol. 74.6% of patients admitted due to alcohol had CAD, and significantly greater than the 26.4% with ‘Severe’ or ‘Very Severe’ acute alcohol intoxication (p<0.001). Admissions due to alcohol differed to admissions not due to alcohol being on average younger (45 vs 56 years, p<0.001) more often male (73.4% vs 45.1% males, p<0.001) and more likely to have a diagnosis synonymous with alcohol or related to recreational drug use, pancreatitis, deliberate self-harm, head injury, gastritis, suicidal ideation, upper gastrointestinal bleeds or seizures (p<0.001). An increase in admissions due to alcohol on Saturdays reflects a surge in admissions with acute alcohol intoxication above the weekly average (p=0.003).

Conclusions: Alcohol was thought to be implicated in 21% of emergency admissions in this cohort. CAD is responsible for a significantly greater proportion of admissions due to alcohol than acute intoxication. Interventions designed to reduce alcohol-related admissions must incorporate measures to tackle CAD.

Read the full article here

Engaging the public in healthcare decision-making: results from a Citizens’ Jury on emergency care services

Scuffham, P.A. et al. Emergency medicine Journal. Published online: 20 June 2016

Image source: noe** // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Background: Policies addressing ED crowding have failed to incorporate the public’s perspectives; engaging the public in such policies is needed.

Objective: This study aimed at determining the public’s recommendations related to alternative models of care intended to reduce crowding, optimising access to and provision of emergency care.

Methods: A Citizens’ Jury was convened in Queensland, Australia, to consider priority setting and resource allocation to address ED crowding. Twenty-two jurors were recruited from the electoral roll, who were interested and available to attend the jury from 15 to 17 June 2012. Juror feedback was collected via a survey immediately following the end of the jury.

Results: The jury considered that all patients attending the ED should be assessed with a minority of cases diverted for assistance elsewhere. Jurors strongly supported enabling ambulance staff to treat patients in their homes without transporting them to the ED, and allowing non-medical staff to treat some patients without seeing a doctor. Jurors supported (in principle) patient choice over aspects of their treatment (when, where and type of health professional) with some support for patients paying towards treatment but unanimous opposition for patients paying to be prioritised. Most of the jurors were satisfied with their experience of the Citizens’ Jury process, but some jurors perceived the time allocated for deliberations as insufficient.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that the general public may be open to flexible models of emergency care. The jury provided clear recommendations for direct public input to guide health policy to tackle ED crowding.

Read the full article here

The influence of contaminated urine cultures in inpatient and emergency department settings

Klausing, B.T. et al. American Journal of Infection Control. Published online: 13 June 2016


  • Urine culture contamination results in substantial impact to patients.
  • Morbidity includes unnecessary testing and antibiotic exposure.
  • Reducing urine culture contamination is an important quality intervention.

We retrospectively evaluated 131 patients with contaminated urine cultures during a 12-month period. Sixty-four patients (48.8%) experienced 139 potential complications related to these specimens. The most common complication was inappropriate antibiotic administration (noted in 58 patients [44.3%]). Contaminated urine cultures led to additional diagnostic evaluation and unnecessary antibiotic use.

Read the abstract here

Obesity and the Emergency Short Stay Unit

Marques, M. et al. International Emergency Nursing. DOI: 10.1016/j.ienj.2016.06.005


  • Obesity was not associated with increased length of stay in ESSU.
  • There was no association between obesity and increased rates of hospital admission.
  • Obese patients had significantly higher allied health interventions required.
  • The proportion of plain x–rays performed was significantly more among obese patients.


Objectives: To evaluate the health service requirements of obese patients admitted to an Emergency Short Stay Unit (ESSU) and specifically compare length of stay (LOS), failure of ESSU management, and rates of investigations and allied health interventions among obese and non-obese patients.

Methods: A prospective cohort study, using convenience sampling was conducted. The body mass index (BMI) of participants was calculated and those with a BMI of ⩾30 were allocated to the obese group, and those that had a BMI of <30 to the non-obese group. Data collected included demographics, admission diagnosis, time and date of ESSU admission and discharge, discharge disposition, radiological investigations, and referrals made to allied health personnel during ESSU admission.

Results: There were 262 patients that were recruited sub-grouped into 127 (48.5%) obese participants and 135 (51.5%) non-obese participants with similar sex and diagnostic category distributions. The mean LOS in ESSU was similar – 11.5 hours (95% CI: 9.9 – 13.1) for obese patients and, 10.2 hours (95% CI: 8.8 – 11.6) for non-obese patients (p=0.21). Failure rates of ESSU management, defined as inpatient admission to hospital, were also similar with 29 (22.8%) obese patients admitted to hospital compared to 25 (18.5%) non-obese patients (p=0.39). Plain x-ray requests were significantly higher among obese patients (71.6 vs 53.3%; p=0.002), as was the rate of allied health interventions (p=0.001).

Conclusion: There was no significant difference in inpatient admission rates or LOS between obese and non-obese patients managed in the ESSU. Provisions for increased rate of investigations and allied health interventions for obese patients may facilitate timely assessment and disposition from ESSU.

Read the abstract here

Influence of alcohol and other substances of abuse at the time of injury among patients in a Norwegian emergency department

Bakke, E. et al. BMC Emergency Medicine. Published online: 8 June 2016

5393-2Background: The presence of alcohol or other substances of abuse in blood or urine from injured patients is often used as a proxy for substance influence at the time of injury. The aim of this study was to obtain an estimate of substance influence at the time of injury based on blood concentrations of alcohol and other substances of abuse, and to explore the relationship between the substance prevalence at the time of admittance to the hospital and the actual influence at the time of the injury.

Methods: The study included all adult patients admitted to the emergency department of a university hospital during 1 year (n = 996). Quantification in blood was done by an enzymatic method for alcohol, and by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry or gas chromatography-mass spectrometry for 28 other substances of abuse. Concentrations of alcohol and other substances in blood at the time of injury were calculated. The degree of influence was assessed on the basis of the calculated blood concentrations, with a threshold of influence set at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 %, or a substance concentration leading to an influence similar to that of a BAC of 0.05 %.

Results: A total of 324 patients (32.5 %) were determined to be under the influence at the time of injury. In comparison, 394 patients (39.6 %) had one or more substances above the cut-off limit in blood at the time of admittance to the hospital. Alcohol was the most prevalent substance causing influence at 25.9 %. Among patients with violence-related injuries, almost 75 % were under the influence of alcohol and/or substances. Patients under the influence were younger, and men were more often under the influence than women. More patients were under the influence at nighttime and during weekends than at daytime and on weekdays.

Conclusions: About one third of the injured patients were determined to be under the influence at the time of injury, with alcohol being the most prevalent substance causing influence. Approximately 98 % of the patients with alcohol detected in blood at the time of admittance to the hospital were under the influence of alcohol at the time of injury.

Read the full article here

Towards the development of a screening tool to enhance the detection of elder abuse and neglect by emergency medical technicians

Cannell, M.B. et al. BMC Emergency Medicine. Published online: 1 June 2016

Background: To develop a screening tool to enhance elder abuse and neglect detection and reporting rates among emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Our primary aim was to identify the most salient indicators of elder abuse and neglect for potential inclusion on a screening tool. We also sought to identify practical elements of the tool that would optimize EMT uptake and use in the field, such as format, length and number of items, and types of response options available.

Methods: Qualitative data were collected from 23 EMTs and Adult Protective Services (APS) caseworkers that participated in one of five semi-structured focus groups. Focus group data were iteratively coded by two coders using inductive thematic identification and data reduction. Findings were subject to interpretation by the research team.

Results: EMTs and APS caseworks identified eight domains of items that might be included on a screening tool: (1) exterior home condition; (2) interior living conditions; (3) social support; (4) medical history; (5) caregiving quality; (6) physical condition of the older adult; (7) older adult’s behavior; and, (8) EMTs instincts. The screening tool should be based on observable cues in the physical or social environment, be very brief, easily integrated into electronic charting systems, and provide a decision rule for reporting guidance to optimize utility for EMTs in the field.

Conclusions: We described characteristics of a screening tool for EMTs to enhance detection and reporting of elder abuse and neglect to APS. Future research should narrow identified items and evaluate how these domains positively predict confirmed cases of elder abuse and neglect.

Read the full article here