Emergency Room Safer Transfer of Patients (ER-STOP): a quality improvement initiative at a community-based hospital to improve the safety of emergency room patient handovers.

OBJECTIVES: Ensure early identification and timely management of patient deterioration as essential components of safe effective healthcare. Prompted by analyses of incident reports and deterioration events, a multicomponent organisational rescue from danger system was redesigned to decrease unexpected inpatient deterioration.

DESIGN: Quality improvement before-after unblinded trial.

SETTING: 430-bed Canadian community teaching hospital.

PARTICIPANTS: All admitted adult medical-surgical patients in a before-after 12-month interventional study.

INTERVENTION: Locally validated checklist (Modified Early Warning Score+urinary catheter in situ+nurse concern) with an intentional pause and explicit management options was deployed as a modification of an existing ward transfer of accountability fax report in the emergency department (ED).

RESULTS: Following deployment of Emergency Room Safer Transfer of Patients (ER-STOP), the risk of an unexpected CCRT (critical care response team) response within 24 hours of admission from ED to adult medical and surgical wards was significantly decreased (OR 4.1, 95% CI 2.17 to 7.77). Mean (±SD) ED wait times (5.66±1.54vs 5.74±1.04 hours, p=0.30), intensive care unit admission rate (3.84%, n=233vs 4.61%, n=278, p=0.06) and cardiac care unit admission rate (9.51%, n=577vs 9.60%, n=579, p=0.198) were unchanged.

CONCLUSIONS: ER-STOP improvement was out of proportion to the predictive value of the checklist component suggesting that effectiveness of this low-cost sustainable tool was related to increased situational awareness, empowering a culture of patient safety and repurposing of an adjacent ED medical short-stay unit use. Local adaptation within existing processes is essential to successful safety outcomes.

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