Emergency signThe Emergency Department (ED) is a highly specialized area within any hospital. On any given day, it’s impossible to predict who (or what) will come through the ED doors and staff is expected to treat a broad spectrum of acutely ill patients, some of which may be experiencing life-threatening injuries that require urgent care.

With specialized equipment in abundance and patient overcrowding a constant problem in the ED, equipment and supplies must be readily available at any moment. If ED staff can’t find what they need immediately, the end result can be harmful or even deadly for patients.

To improve efficiency and safety in the ED, Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake recently made improvements to the way equipment and supplies are organized. By applying the principles of lean (an ongoing process of making improvements as directed by frontline staff to improve flow and reduce waste) Darla Yuill, Patient Care Coordinator, says the changes have made significant improvements in the delivery and overall quality of care in the ED.

Cariboo - before Trauma

Trauma Room before lean. Equipment and supplies are disorganized, unlabelled or missing, making patient care challenging for ED staff.

“Before we implemented lean, some areas in the ED were so cluttered it was difficult to see the forest through the trees!” says Darla. “Now, our Trauma Room is completely re-organized. It’s not only easier for staff to find what they need when they need it, but the possibility of infection is greatly reduced because we’ve eliminated any unnecessary equipment from the bedside.”

The concept sounds simple – make supplies and equipment easier to find, reduce waste and increase efficiency and flow – but re-organization can be a challenge when urgent patient care takes precedence in a busy ED.

“It was a bit challenging at first, but it wasn’t long before staff became used to the improvements. I remember one physician was quite concerned at the beginning, but was pleasantly surprised at how quickly he could find what he needed during a trauma at a glance. I find this reduces the stress levels and makes flow during times of crisis easier to deal with.”

Cariboo - after Trauma
Trauma Room after lean. Equipment and supplies are readily available and space around the bedside is clear of unnecessary equipment.

In collaboration with the IH West Quality Improvement team, Darla says she and her team re-organized the Cariboo Memorial ED in stages, beginning with the Main ED and storage rooms. “The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is already done and has turned out to be as successful as ED,” she says, “Again, things are much easier to find. I’m not sure what is next, but I am looking forward to improving the flow of the department. I’m hopeful we can share what we’re doing with other hospitals so they can see how much more efficient patient care can be in the ED.”

Congratulations to all the staff at Cariboo Memorial Hospital!

Cariboo - after storage room

Storage room after lean. Equipment and supplies are clearly labelled and organized for easy, quick access.

Darla Yuill is Patient Care Coordinator at Cariboo Memorial Hospital. For more information about how to use lean to improve efficiency and flow, contact Darla by email at Darla.Yuill@interiorhealth.ca

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