Berlin, Md. -- Atlantic General Hospital’s Emergency Department has far fewer
patients leave the hospital before treatment is complete than the national
average, according to the Quality Indicator Project, a benchmarking entity
of the Maryland Hospital Association.
Nationwide, an average of three percent of patients entering the emergency
department leave before treatment is complete. At Atlantic General Hospital
that figure is less than one percent.
This information is an indication of patient satisfaction at Atlantic General
Hospital as well as the length of time a patient spends in their emergency
According to the same study, less than two percent of the patients who
enter the Emergency Department at Atlantic General Hospital have a treatment
time greater than six hours. Treatment time is measured from the moment
a patient enters the emergency department to the time they are either
treated and released or admitted to the hospital.
This is important because a longer emergency department wait in some cases
can have a negative effect on the outcome of a patient’s illness
or injury. A patient could grow sicker while waiting. Or, he or she may
leave early out of frustration when treatment is really needed.
“People may not realize the seriousness of their illness,”
said Emergency Department Director Andi West-McCabe. “When facing
an hours-long wait, they will leave because they are more comfortable
Atlantic General Hospital has taken steps to reduce treatment times and
maintain a high level of care, therefore decreasing the number of patients
who leave prematurely.
Among them is a pneumatic tube system, such as the one used in bank drive-thrus,
to deliver specimens quickly to the laboratory for analysis. The results
from those samples are then available in the department’s computer
system and automatically faxed to the doctor’s station.
A digitized radiology system allows the emergency staff to see images on
the computer as soon as the x-rays are taken. There is no wait for film
to be developed and delivered before a patient can be diagnosed.
The department has also implemented a separate fast track for those patients
with minor injuries or illnesses who can be treated more quickly. From
the time of arrival to discharge, fast track patients spend an average
of one hour and fourteen minutes in the department.
“People choose this emergency department because they know they receive
quality care, and wait times are shorter here,” said West-McCabe.