Specialized fast track: a sustainable model to improve emergency department patient flow

Emilpaolo Manno, Marco Pesce, Umberto Stralla, Federico Festa, Silvio Geninatti, Maria fausta Balzarro, Daniele Di Leo, Barbara Gelain


Objective: Emergency department (ED) overcrowding is a hospital-wide problem that demands a whole-hospital solution. We developed and implemented a fast track model for streaming ED patients with low-acuity illness or injury to specialized care areas (gynecology-obstetrics, orthopedics-trauma, pediatrics, and primary care) staffed by existing specialist resources with access to general ED services. The study aim was to determine whether streaming of ED visits into specialized fast track areas increased operational efficiency and improved patient flow in a mixed adult and pediatric ED without incurring extra costs.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the ED discharge records of patients who were mainstreamed or fast tracked during the 3-year period from 1 January 2010 through 31 December 2012. ED visits were identified according to a five-level triage scheme; performance indicators were compared for: wait time, length of stay, leave before being seen and revisit rates.
Results: A reduction in wait time, length of stay, and leave before being seen rate was seen with fast track streaming (p < .01). These improvements were achieved without additional medical and nurse staffing.
Conclusions: Specialized fast track streaming helped us meet patients’ care needs and contain costs. Lower-acuity patients were seen quickly by a specialist and safely discharged or admitted to the hospital without diverting resources from patients with high-acuity illness or injury. Involvement of all stakeholders in seeking a sustainable solution to ED crowding as a hospital-wide problem was key to enhancing cooperation between the ED and the hospital units.

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jha.v4n5p40


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

Copyright © Sciedu Press
To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the 'Sciedupress.com' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.