Local News

Local Hospital Guarantees Fast Emergency Room Response

Posted September 15, 2003 4:37 a.m. EDT

— At some hospital emergency departments, the average wait to be seen is five hours. One area hospital promises to see patients within 15 minutes.

Franklin Regional Medical Center guarantees emergency room patients will see a triage nurse within 15 minutes of arrival and a doctor in under an hour.

How do they do it? The hospital's new computer system tracks patients the second they arrive.

"That chimes back in the ER area to let the nurses know that a patient has presented in the waiting room and the clock starts ticking at that point," said Scott McIntyre, Franklin Regional's chief operating officer.

Franklin Regional also streamlined communication with the lab and added a second nurse triage area to accommodate emergency room patients.

"Go ahead and sort the patients and help them get triaged and back to the area so they can be seen by the physician on time," said Teresa Woods, RN, a 10-year veteran of the emergency department.

Many people, including Woods, did not think it could be done. Wood said the staff was skeptical at first, but have been proven wrong.

"We meet it about 90 percent of the time," McIntyre said.

Minutes instead of hours. Some say it is time saved, while others say it is time well spent.

If the emergency department does not meet its guarantee, the hospital makes a $25 donation to the patient's charity of choice.

Other hospitals, including WakeMed, have added new technology and other programs to speed up wait times. Most large hospital emergency rooms and trauma centers said it would be impossible for to meet that kind of deadline.