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Atlantic General Hospital's Emergency Department Reports Shorter Turnaround Time

Berlin, Md. - At a time when long emergency room waits are reaching crisis levels, Atlantic General Hospital reports shorter wait times across the board – from the time individuals enter the emergency room to their discharge after treatment, and every step in between.

The emergency department at AGH, which sees 27,000 patients each year, has an average turnaround time of two hours and fourteen minutes for those who need treatment but don’t require in-patient care. That figure jumps a little to four hours and seven minutes for those who are admitted to the hospital.

The national average emergency room visit, according to the most recent study published by the National Center for Health Statistics, lasts three hours and 12 minutes. At Atlantic General Hospital, the total average treatment time patients have experienced in the past year is two hours and 32 minutes.

Atlantic General Hospital’s figures were compiled from data collected by the emergency department staff from November 1, 2004 through November 1, 2005. According to Emergency Department Director Andi West-McCabe, these figures are the result of several factors:

The number of beds available in the department since its 2003 expansion: The emergency department has nineteen beds available, eight of those being cardiac beds. This means shorter waits, not only for a bed after an initial examination by a triage nurse, but also for individuals who are waiting for an initial exam.

Fast Tracking: The department has implemented a separate fast track for those patients with minor injuries or illnesses that 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.

Automated Medication Dispenser (PYXIS): This automated system keeps medication on-hand in the emergency department based on previously reported usage. This assists in reducing patient treatment times because the ED staff doesn’t have to wait to receive the medication from the pharmacy. A patient’s name is pulled up on the system along with a log of any previously dispensed medications, a medication is selected, and it is available immediately.

Patient Tracking System: As soon as a patient enters the emergency department, a staff member with a handheld pocket PC is assessing that individual’s reason for coming in. The information entered into the handheld can be pulled up on the computers within the department, allowing the medical staff to plan their treatments before the patient enters the room.

“In addition to the technology that has been utilized in the department, I have a very strong, dedicated staff. They have a great deal of experience and work wonderfully with the emergency physicians to meet our patients’ needs,” said West-McCabe.

For the more than two years since Atlantic General Hospital opened its new emergency department, it has never had to enter into an alert status or turn away patients meeting its criteria. For more information about the Emergency Department at Atlantic General Hospital, please contact Andi West-McCabe at 410-641-9664.