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Objective: This research aims to describe the effect of standard care (control) versus a clinical management pathway (intervention) on patient length of stay and admission rates during a public health emergency at one Australian Emergency Department.
Method: A retrospective audit of hospital records for patients who presented in May 2013 with gastroenteritis-like symptoms was undertaken following a surge in patient presentations from a Salmonella outbreak. Patients who presented with gastroenteritis-like symptoms between 15th and 19th May 2013 received care according to a clinical management pathway (intervention). The focus of the intervention was based on symptom management, including a standardised approach to analgesia, anti-emetics and rehydration. Patient characteristics, such as age and gender are described using descriptive statistics. A Mann-Whitney test was used to compare continuous data and a Fisher exact test was used to compare categorical data, between the two groups.
Results: Over an eight-day period, 110 patients presented with gastroenteritis-like symptoms. The median length of stay was statistically different between the two groups (P< 0.001). More patients were admitted to hospital from the control group (n = 5) when compared with the intervention group (n = 0); however, given the small number of patients in these groups, inferential statistical analysis was not a reasonable consideration.
Conclusion: The length of stay for patients between the two groups was statistically different, suggesting that the implementation of a clinical management pathway for patients with gastroenteritis-like symptoms reduced the ED length of stay. This finding is useful in future planning for similar public health emergency responses and/or for use when patients present with gastroenteritis-like symptoms on a daily basis.
Ranse J, Luther M, Ranse K. (2015). Impact of a pilot pathway for the management of gastroenteritis-like symptoms in an emergency department: A case study following a Salmonella outbreak. Emergency Medicine Australasia. [in-press].