Washington Adventist Hospital reduces wait times for emergency patients

When you are sick or in pain, the last thing you want to face is a long wait in a hospital’s emergency department. At Washington Adventist Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED), a doctor, nurse and medical technician are all involved in your care—right from the start. This coordinated care approach allows patients to receive quality care faster and return home, where they truly want to be.

Since 2009, Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park has significantly increased its efforts to decrease wait times and enhance the patient experience. This approach ensures that patients with the most severe, life threatening medical conditions get immediate attention, while at the same time those with minor illnesses and injuries are seen in a separate “fast track” area where they can receive the tests and treatment they need quickly and efficiently.

“By having a physician, nurse and medical technician part of a patient’s care early in the process, we’re able to reduce wait times and tell our patients right away what they need to have done,” explains Drew White, M.D., medical director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Washington Adventist Hospital. Washington Adventist Hospital has an average wait to see a physician time of 17 minutes.

“Even with limited space as a challenge, we have been able to make innovations that have put us ahead of national benchmarks in terms of patients who leave the ED without being treated, which usually happens because the wait is too long,” Dr. White says.

Washington Adventist Hospital’s ED average for patients who leave without being treated is four times lower than national benchmarks, according to National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey data. The hospital has also attained top rankings in the area of patient satisfaction of ED physicians, with physicians receiving an overall rating in the 99th percentile compared with other emergency departments across the nation.

Another achievement came in October 2011 when Washington Adventist Hospital celebrated its first full year of zero hours of yellow diversion for ambulances. During “yellow diversion,” ambulances are rerouted to the next nearest hospital because an emergency department cannot take any more patients by ambulance because of volume of patients or other situations in the hospital.

“Maintaining zero hours of yellow diversion serves as another example of our hospital’s commitment to providing quality emergency care to our community and enhancing the patient experience,” says Joyce Newmyer, president of Washington Adventist Hospital.