Bed Shortages Effecting Patient Flow

By Martina Tierney OT · September 07, 2018 ·

The contentious issue of bed shortages is affecting many thousands of patients in hospitals each week. A shortage of beds can result in increased lead times in Accident and Emergency and therefore the risk of preventable injury can be increased.

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Working as a clinicians means I am in hospitals every week, dealing with the complex issue of patient flow which starts at the Accident and Emergency Department and leads through the hospital stay to patient discharge.

I have seen first hand cases were older adults are admitted to Accident and Emergency, simply because there is not a bed available for them on the base unit. They are often held in Accident and Emergency, Medical Assessment Unit, Clinical Decisions Unit or another location until a bed becomes available.

In some cases, these elderly adults can be seated on a waiting room chair or on a stretcher for multiple hours at a time. A number of hospitals we have worked with have addressed this risk by providing specialist seating to adults upon admission in the Accident and Emergency Department. By sitting on an appropriate specialist, therapeutic and clinical seat, the risk of falls and pressure ulcer development is is greatly reduced and their comfort is increased.

In departments where this has been successfully implemented, the risk of preventable injury is reduced. Therefore the development of other avoidable costs, increased length of stay, pain and suffering is reduced.

When this is paired with an effective strategy for seating provisions during hospital stay and any active process to aid the discharge of patients, the provision of equipment can play a key role in improving patient flow, reducing delayed discharge, reducing waiting times in Accident and Emergency and improving the overall patient satisfaction for the hospital visit.

Reasons for delayed discharges

Our clinical team are experienced in assisting hospitals in these three areas and implementing an equipment program, training and a service to enable patient flow and reduce readmission rate to hospital.

If we can help your department feel free to contact us. For further reading on how seating can help with delayed transfers of care or delayed discharges, read here.

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