This study evaluated how implementation of an acute care emergency surgery service (ACCESS) affected key determinants of emergency department (ED) length of stay, and particularly, surgical decision time. Also, we analyzed how ACCESS affected ED overcrowding.
We conducted a before and after study of all ED patients referred to ACCESS from January 1, 2007 to June 30, 2009. ACCESS was implemented on July 1, 2008. The primary outcome was surgical decision time; the secondary outcome was a measure of overall ED overcrowding: "time-to-stretcher" for all ED patients. The control groups were patients referred to internal medicine or urology. Patients with appendicitis were studied in order to analyze the impact on patient outcomes and to determine barriers to efficient ED patient flow.
Of 2,510 patients, 1,448 patients were pre-ACCESS, and 1,062 were after ACCESS implementation. Implementation of ACCESS was associated with a 15% reduction in surgical decision time (12.6 hours vs 10.8 hours, p