***image1***Patients of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center emergency room can expect to see shorter waiting times.
New goals for the ER were adopted in May in response to customer comment cards and will help improve the way patients are seen, said Air Force Maj. Stephen Fecura Jr., nurse manager for the Department of Emergency Medicine at LRMC.
According to surveys from the National Center for Health Statistics, the average waiting time for emergency room treatment was 65 minutes, and the average length of stay for patients was over three hours, said Major Fecura. Even emergency rooms reporting few patients still averaged nearly 40-minute waits and lengths of stay over two hours.
When LRMC is compared to the national average, they break even, he added. “During the January to March 2004 quarter, we reported average waiting times of 68 minutes and average length of stays of 2.7 hours.”
“Patients who leave without being seen is also one of our concerns,” said Major Fecura. “We try to maintain the community average of less that two percent. However, for the January-March quarter, we reported 2.39 percent of patients left without being seen.”
The ER will implement higher standards of customer service, a department-appointed service representative, selected staff attendance at the KMC 40-hour Customer College, better waiting room management and the induction of a better patient flow process.
“The emergency room has already seen a reduction of 1.8 percent of patients in May who left without being seen, despite a 140-patient increase that month,” Major Fecura said.
The next goal is to reduce lengths of stay to a new initial target of less than two hours with an ultimate goal of 90 minutes, said Major Fecura.
Another improvement nearing completion is the emergency room pediatric-specific treatment room, he said. “This room, the first of its kind at LRMC, is designed to aid in the stress reduction of our little customers.”
The emergency room services approximately 20,000 patients annually, including 6,000 pediatric patients, he added.
“It is important to realize that during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, ambulances will continue to arrive with many severely injured or ill patients requiring emergency room treatment,” said Major Fecura. “This, other localized ambulances, unexpected deployments of emergency room staff and more time-sensitive injuries will impact waiting room times and lengths of stay.”
One way patients can help reduce wait times is to contact their primary care provider at the Family Practice or Pediatric Clinics they are assigned to, said Major Fecura.
For illnesses such as cold or flu symptoms, urinary tract infections, bronchitis, allergies, ear aches or minor muscular-skeletal injuries, patients can check if they are able to receive an appointment with a specific clinic or if an emergency room visit is necessary.
“The KMC has a 24-hour nurse’s hotline that patients can call for home treatment that may reduce waiting times in the emergency room,” said Major Fecura. The hotline number is 0800-825-1600.