How a Novant hospital is improving patient experience in the ED

A Novant Health hospital in North Carolina has implemented several new policies to improve emergency department care, including assigning a nurse to check patients' vitals every 30 minutes while waiting in the lobby, local NBC affiliate WECT reported Aug. 24. 

Physicians at Wilmington, N.C.-based New Hanover Regional Medical Center will also check on patients in the ED lobby before they're able to be taken back to a room, hospital officials told the news outlet. 

"For those who are waiting in the lobby, who are stable and appropriate to wait, those patients are getting their rechecks and their vital signs," said Christy Spivey, BSN, RN, senior director of nursing for the health system's coastal region. "We've seen an outstanding improvement in that regard and we hear that from our patients and our staff." 

Officials said the process improvements have decreased the overall amount of time patients are left waiting, and has cut the ED's left without being seen rate in just a few months. 

"Back in June, it was around 11 percent. But now month to date [we are at] 3 percent, which is really a national best practice to have rates that aren't in the double digits," Ms. Spivey said. "That's been a huge win." 

The hospital has hired hundreds of nurses in the last few weeks to address "deficiencies" state inspectors identified in June. The issues left its Medicare contract in jeopardy, though health inspectors found the hospital had sufficiently corrected the problems during a reinspection Aug. 11. Nearly 30 of the recently hired nurses are working in the ED to implement the new policies, Novant Health officials told WECT.  

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