Introduction: Abdominal pain has a wide range of possible causes, which may lead to difficulties in diagnosing and lengthy Emergency Department (ED) stays. In this study, bottlenecks in ED processes of patients with abdominal pain were identified.
Methods: Time-points of patients who presented to a Dutch ED with abdominal pain were observed and documented. The institutional review board approved the study.
Results: In total, 3015 min of patient time were observed in 54 patients. Median length of stay (LOS) was 218 min for admitted patients, and 168 min for discharged patients. For 65 patients (27.4%), LOS exceeded 4 h. Delays were found during the diagnostic process, when multiple physicians were needed in order to make a decision, and during departure.
Conclusions: Our study concerning individual patients’ time-points provides important insight into delays in the patient journey of patients with abdominal pain. Flow improvement can be achieved by focusing on these bottlenecks, for example by minimizing diagnostic delays and by simultaneous specialists’ consultations for patients who need more than one physician. The optimization of ED flow for patients with abdominal pain depends on coordinated efforts between ED staff, medical specialists, radiology and laboratory staff, staff from inpatient units, and hospital supporting services.

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International Emergency Nursing
Erasmus University Rotterdam

van der Linden, M.C, Van Loon, M. (Merel), Feenstra, N.S.F. (Nienke S.F.), & van der Linden, N. (2018). Assessing bottlenecks in Emergency Department flow of patients with abdominal pain. International Emergency Nursing. doi:10.1016/j.ienj.2018.03.006