Date of Conferral
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Emergency department (ED) crowding is a serious problem in the United States. Crowding in the ED can result in delays that may negatively affect patient outcomes and increase the cost of care. The purpose of this project was to understand strategies that can help to improve patient flow in the ED. The plan-to-do-study act model for process improvement influenced this project. Secondary data were collected for a 2-month period to determine the impact of workflow processes (patient boarding time in ED, surge capacity and workflow processes including the impact of ancillary departments) on the movement of admitted patients from the ED to the inpatient units. Descriptive statistics were used to provide numerical summaries, frequencies, and percentages for the identified variables. The findings were consistent with an increased length of stay and longer ED boarding of patients due to the workflow process. Resulting recommendations included standardized calls for report on admitted patients within 30 minutes, timely discharge of patients, collaboration with attending physicians to facilitate evaluation of patients and orders, modification of staffing roles to ensure adequate staff, and identification of staff transporters to ensure timely transport of patients to their rooms. The findings helped to inform the development of a Bed Utilization Policy. The policy has been shared with the organization with the recommendation to implement and further evaluate to help manage bed flow. Development of utilization strategies that contribute to facilitating throughput will promote positive social change by providing nurses with the tools to help prepare for and respond to unexpected increases in patient volume. Improving efficiency with flow can help to improve patient care, timeliness, and safety.