Coordination by Hospitalists Eases Emergency Department Crowding

From Reuters, via Medscape:

Active bed management by hospitalists can reduce emergency department (ED) congestion and increase throughput, Maryland-based researchers report in the December 2nd issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Our study,” lead investigator Dr. Eric Howell told Reuters Health, “showed that hospitalists can be part of an effective solution for ED crowding, as well as help solve inpatient hospital capacity issues — including ICU capacity.”

Overuse of the Emergency Department for Pain Medications

From Medscape (free subscription required):

Are there policies in place to manage patients who overuse the ED for pain medication refill?

I am not aware of any medical regulatory guidelines or policy statements that apply directly to managing patients who overuse the Emergency Department (ED) to obtain pain medication refills. In fact, I was unable to identify such regulatory policy from the 5 largest states (in order of population size: California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Florida), which together license approximately a third of the nation’s nonfederal physicians. Rather, institutional-specific standards typically influence prescribing practices for pain medications in ED settings.

Wrap Rage

From AMedNews:

Images of colorfully wrapped presents under a Christmas tree are not supposed to trigger feelings of frustration and risks of possible injury. But trends in the packaging of many popular gifts have been diagnosed as the cause of this scenario — what sometimes is called “wrap rage.”

The real culprit, of course, is the “clamshell” or “oyster” packaging that encases many toys, electronics and other products. These hard plastic containers have emerged as a favorite of manufacturers and retailers because they protect items during shipping and prevent theft from store shelves, while still allowing shoppers to see what they are buying. The problem for consumers, though, is that these coverings are intensely difficult to remove — often requiring tools, muscle and swearing. Sometimes the experience results in a trip to the hospital.

“I’ve worked in the emergency department on Christmas day for six out of the last 10 years. We certainly see lacerations. That’s the most common thing. But we also see punctures,” said David Ross, DO, an emergency physician at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colo. He also is a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians. “That clamshell packaging is absolutely diabolical.”

U.S. emergency rooms find ways to fix what ails them

From USA Today:

Hospital emergency rooms could use some intensive care of their own. Long waits. Patients spending hours or days on beds in ER hallways. Shortages of specialists willing to see emergency patients.

The cause of the nation’s ER overcrowding is obvious: Too many patients and not enough ER capacity. But it’s not all doom and gloom inside America’s emergency rooms.

Some hospitals are finding ways to make their emergency rooms more efficient while maintaining safety.

Despite the Hype, Patients’ Use of Retail Clinics Is ‘Modest’

From the Wall Street Journal Health Blog:

The number of patients who’ve tried out retail clinics turns out to be modest, but that’s shouldn’t be all that surprising, some health wonks say. The clinics are still young, and while they’ve spread rapidly (and then slowed down), they’re still not everywhere, note the authors of a study from the Center for Studying Health System Change.

The study’s authors noted that retail clinics have turned out to be more complex and costly to operate than expected, and some doctors in traditional physician practices are responding by extending their own office hours and doing more same-day scheduling.