The effect of a separate stream for minor injuries on accident and emergency department waiting times

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INTRODUCTION: To decrease waiting times within accident and emergency (A&E) departments, various initiatives have been suggested including the use of a separate stream of care for minor injuries ("fast track"). This study aimed to assess whether a separate stream of minor injuries care in a UK A&E department decreases the waiting time, without delaying the care of those with more serious injury. INTERVENTION: A doctor saw any ambulant patients with injuries not requiring an examination couch or an urgent intervention. Any patients requiring further treatment were returned to the sub-wait area until a nurse could see them in another cubicle. METHOD: Data were retrospectively extracted from the routine hospital information systems for all patients attending the A&E department for five weeks before the institution of the separate stream system and for five weeks after. RESULTS: 13 918 new patients were seen during the 10 week study period; 7117 (51.1%) in the first five week period and 6801 (49.9%) in the second five week period when a separate stream was operational. Recorded time to see a doctor ranged from 0-850 minutes. Comparison of the two five week periods demonstrated that the proportion of patients waiting less than 30 and less than 60 minutes both improved (p


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-30
Number of pages3
JournalEmergency Medicine Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002