Restructuring the ER

This is a very interesting link. You can read the transcript of a program presented on PBS’ NewsHour, or – if you prefer – listen to a streaming audio file or watch the video segment. Pretty cool. The transcript is excerpted below:

“Restructuring the ER”

Studies show that more than half the nation’s emergency rooms are facing overcrowding, a problem that has led to patients being turned away at the door and one that may cause avoidable deaths, according to some doctors.

At Boston Medical Center, Litvak set to work figuring out the causes of the diversion problem. His work there was funded through a grant by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which also provides financial support to the NewsHour’s health unit.

Litvak first looked at all the ways patients were flowing into and through Boston Medical Center. As is typical in hospitals, many seriously ill patients came in through the emergency department. Once treated and stabilized, many would then be transferred to a bed on the general floor. Other patients would come into the hospital’s operating rooms for scheduled or elective surgeries, such as heart bypass operations. If they needed to recover afterward, they’d be transferred to beds on the floor, too.

Based on the data he reviewed, Litvak quickly rejected one hypothesis: That the emergency department was being flooded with unpredictable surges of seriously ill patients. In fact, says Litvak, those numbers were steady.