Strategies for Help in Crowded Emergency Rooms
Objective: Pediatric patients with asthma are frequently cared for in the emergency department (ED). Many studies show early administration of corticosteroids (CS) can improve outcomes for children experiencing an asthma exacerbation. Despite the evidence, delays in care remain. The purpose of this study is to streamline the process for nurse-initiated, triage-based CS administration and determine the effect on overall length of stay (LOS). Methods: For this quality improvement initiative, ED nurses at a large, freestanding, children’s emergency department in the southwestern United States were given education on inclusion and exclusion criteria for nurse-initiated CS in ED triage. Time to CS administration, LOS, and whether the ED nurse or provider ordered the CS were evaluated through chart reviews of patients presenting with a chief complaint of difficulty breathing. These metrics were compared to charts from the previous year during the same timeframe to evaluate for improved timeliness of CS delivery. Results: Time to CS administration decreased from a mean of 98.6 minutes to 57.6 minutes. LOS decreased from an average of 259.3 minutes to 169.6 minutes. The effect of timely CS on LOS was significant for December p =.003, January p =.002, and February p = <.001. Conclusion: A streamlined process for CS delivery to pediatric patients experiencing an asthma exacerbation can enable providers to achieve efficient and effective care in the ED and decrease a patient’s overall LOS.