Challenges All Emergency Departments Face Daily

Emergency Department written on red signageOne of the goals of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) was to minimize the unnecessary use of emergency departments (EDs). Despite the attempts though, studies show that these medical and health facilities have just grown busier, primarily due to the growth in the number of insured individuals.

With experts forecasting the continued increase in ED visitors, organizations have to take a closer look at their emergency room management policies. Optimizing operations should start with gauging the doctor/nurse to patient ratio.

Limited medical team members and their capacity

A major challenge many emergency departments face is the limited capacity of their medical team. As experienced and skilled as they are, doctors still have limits on the number of patients they can see in an hour.

Ideally, physicians need at least an hour to attend to a patient’s needs properly. Seeing two in the same amount of time often proves very difficult for understaffed departments. Not to mention that increasing the number of patients a doctor must see in 60 minutes also increases the risk of committing a misdiagnosis.

Peak and non-peak “season”

Most of the time, EDs have to deal with hundreds of patients; however, there are times when it’s quiet. For this reason, it’s very common for such healthcare facilities to experience overstaffing too. In fact, some can have as much as a 40% difference between their peak and the non-peak days.

This then raises another challenge for them, which is determining which days they should have more staff members and which ones they can afford to have fewer people.

An obvious, yet often overlooked solution

Many emergency departments tend to overlook alternative staffing services they can rely on for assistance, especially in approaching their understaffing issues. Many of these service providers specialize in assisting low to mid-volume EDs work around the staffing-related challenges they constantly face.

Through the incorporation of these staffing solutions in an ED’s management plan, they can safely and effectively increase productivity, and more importantly, raise patient satisfaction.