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Patient flow is a term from the field of health care. It elicits a steady movement of patients, information, and equipment between staffs, organization, and departments as components of patient’s care trail. The concept of patient flow, therefore, focuses on the progressive movement of products, people, and information through a series of processes. Enhanced patient flow increases patient safety and is necessary in ensuring that patients receive the right care in the right place and at the right time (Baker et al., 2009). The paper brings into perspective the factors that influence patient flow in an emergency department of a health care unit. Elements such as design of the department, the type of staff, strategies of the department, and facilities influence patient movement in the emergency department.
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Adoption of the right strategies is cardinal for the improvement of the situation in the light of the aforementioned considerations. Reduced delays and ensuring that patients receive the right care at the appropriate time will significantly improve the quality of care and enhance patients’ satisfaction. A clinical department can develop a close relationship between the operational and other support sections. Coordination between the department and the support functions ensures the efficient flow of information, samples, and equipment through other departments. The caregivers in the department should collaborate on various operational elements to facilitate patients’ movement (Asplin et al., 2003).
The department shoul provide enough capacity to meet the rising demands of the patients. It should track and match the work rate with the new demands from the clients. In addition, there is a need for the clinical function to develop systems that monitor and measure the patient flow and help in identification of operational problems (Baker et al., 2009). Shared responsibilities and resources enable the department to combat variations in the waiting time. The strategy ensures a steady flow of work and patients thus reducing unnecessary crowding in the department (Asplin et al., 2003).
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In an emergency department, improper patient flow poses a great challenge, because it elicits demand for emergency care, safety net care, and urgent care. The lack of adequate facilities to address the demands of patients on time may cause congestion in the sectionNot enough facilities and staff is the most possible cause of overcrowding in the emergency segment. A health care unit may divert the patients to other centers because of insufficient number of inpatient beds (Baker et al., 2009). Emergencies are unforeseen circumstances that are unpredictable in nature. Poor design of the department also interferes with optimal patient flow. There is a need to facilitate the movement of patients, resources, facilities, and personnel without interference. Achievement of this objective entirely depends on the design of the section (Green, 2007)
The lack of adequate facilities implies that the segment cannot serve a high number of patients who may turn out in cases of natural calamities or even terror attacks. Anotther factor that hinders patient flow in the emergency department is the application of non-urgent care and keeping patients in the department for a long time. Strategies that facilitate admission and discharge processes will improve the performance of the department. The next stage of care may include either admission to the hospital or transfer to another care provider (Baker et al., 2009).
The use of discharge rooms where patients can receive follow-up instructions and wait for transportation without occupying the emergency room can help to enhance the patient flow. Proper anticipation and management of variability in the demand for hospital care will also alleviate overcrowding in the emergency department. The department will study the past trends so as to attain the objectives of the hospital and adopt appropriate measures to counter the arising emergencies and relate the situation to the past events. Recruitment of specialist physicians who can work in emergencies promptly whenever there is a need will improve the patient flow in the emergency department (Green, 2007).
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In conclusion, an emergency department needs proper design that facilitates efficient care of patient and work of staff so as to respond to the needs of the patients. A health care unit should also ensure that the staff has sufficient knowledge on patient flow and movement of resources across the various functions in an entity. Proper planning of work schedules and design of the section also contribute to the achievement of objectives and ensuring patient satisfaction (Asplin et al., 2003).
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