Background: Reduction in admissions is an important aim of emergency department working policy to overcome the problems of a shortage of inpatient beds, overcrowding, rising costs and exhausted resources. A new policy was instituted in the emergency department of a hospital in Kuwait with the following components: (1) an admission avoidance team of emergency department doctors; (2) implementation of disease management guidelines; and (3) maximising the use of an emergency department observation unit.
Methods: The effects of this policy on reduction in admission rates for total medical admissions and for chest pain, bronchial asthma, heart failure, pneumonia and pyelonephritis as selected samples of common medical conditions were prospectively studied over a period of 3 years from institution of the policy and compared with the 3-year period before the policy was instituted.
Results: There was a significant reduction in admission rates after institution of the new policy, with a relative reduction of 35.9% for total medical admissions, 52.7% for chest pain, 49.2% for bronchial asthma, 34.7% for heart failure, 59.1% for pneumonia and 43.3% for pyelonephritis compared with the period before the policy was instituted.
Conclusion: A multidisciplinary emergency department policy, using as much available evidence as possible, was successful in significantly reducing medical hospital admissions in spite of the rising numbers of patients visiting the emergency department and observation unit.
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Competing interests: None.