Hospital ED Wait Times Reveal Huge Variations
The CMS rule added that "Overcrowding and heavy emergency resource demand have led to a number of problems including ambulance refusals, prolonged patient waiting times, increased suffering for those who wait, rushed and unpleasant treatment environments, and potentially poor patient outcomes. Finally, when EDs are overwhelmed, their ability to respond to community emergencies and disasters may be compromised."
CMS said in the rule that it wanted hospitals to perform this exercise voluntarily in order to "identify any needed refinements" prior to required submission with discharged patients as of Jan. 1, 2012.
These two measures are only the first of many more to come, CMS spokesman Don McLeod told HealthLeaders Media in an e-mail response.
The third metric, ED-3, "is a measure of time of arrival to time of departure for discharged patients"—that is, patients who are not admitted as inpatients, hesays. Hospitals will also be required to report "median time from arrival to troponin (a test to determine heart muscle function) results for AMI/chest pain patients; median time from arrival to pain medication for patients with a long bone fracture; and timing from arrival to CT scan results for patients presenting to the ED with symptoms of a stroke." These metrics are part of the outpatient quality reporting program for patient encounters as of Jan. 1, 2012.
Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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