July 4, 2014 – ED Crowding


Anchor lead:  What can be done about crowds and lengthy waits in the emergency department? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Anyone who’s visited an emergency department knows that the place is often crowded and it can be hours before you’re seen.  Gabor Kelen, director of the department of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins, has recently written an analysis of the problem and already instituted measures to help.

Kelen: It doesn’t actually alleviate crowding but what it does is make sure that nobody is getting tremendously hurt by the long waits.  One of the things we are doing is what we call ‘up front’ screening.  We put a doctor right up front, as soon as the patient engages with anybody coming through the door a doctor is seeing them simultaneously. It’s not a very complete evaluation, but it’s sufficient to determine is this patient going to die or something bad happen because they may experience a long wait.   :30

Kelen says the real fix is in the entire hospital, since the reason so many people stay in the ED is because beds aren’t available elsewhere. This complex problem is also being addressed.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.