Objective: To evaluate hospital length of stay (LOS) and admission rates before and after implementation of an evidence-based, accelerated diagnostic protocol (ADP) for patients presenting to emergency departments (EDs) with chest pain.
Design: Quasi-experimental design, with interrupted time series analysis for the period October 2013 – November 2015.
Setting, participants: Adults presenting with chest pain to EDs of 16 public hospitals in Queensland.
Intervention: Implementation of the ADP by structured clinical re-design.
Main outcome measures: Primary outcome: hospital LOS. Secondary outcomes: ED LOS, hospital admission rate, proportion of patients identified as being at low risk of an acute coronary syndrome (ACS).
Results: Outcomes were recorded for 30 769 patients presenting before and 23 699 presenting after implementation of the ADP. Following implementation, 21.3% of patients were identified by the ADP as being at low risk for an ACS. Following implementation of the ADP, mean hospital LOS fell from 57.7 to 47.3 hours (rate ratio [RR], 0.82; 95% CI, 0.74–0.91) and mean ED LOS for all patients presenting with chest pain fell from 292 to 256 minutes (RR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.72–0.89). The hospital admission rate fell from 68.3% (95% CI, 59.3–78.5%) to 54.9% (95% CI, 44.7–67.6%; P < 0.01). The estimated release in financial capacity amounted to $2.3 million as the result of reduced ED LOS and $11.2 million through fewer hospital admissions.
Conclusions: Implementing an evidence-based ADP for assessing patients with chest pain was feasible across a range of hospital types, and achieved a substantial release of health service capacity through reductions in hospital admissions and ED LOS.
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