Scripps Program Cuts ER Waiting Times

Scripps Mercy Hospital First in California to Offer Innovative Process

San DiegoScripps Mercy Hospital is the first in California to put into place an innovative and patient-focused process that has virtually eliminated wait times and has changed the way the hospital delivers care to patients seeking treatment in the emergency department at its San Diego and Chula Vista campuses.

As a result of the new practice, patients are seen by a physician within an average of 30 minutes of arriving at the hospital. Patients are immediately assessed by an experienced nurse who determines whether the patient needs a bed or medical recliner, and the patient is then escorted to the appropriate treatment area. After arriving in the treatment area, patients are seen by both a nurse and physician for the patient intake process, which eliminates the need for a patient to describe their symptoms and medical history multiple times to multiple caregivers.

“We are immensely proud of the new process and the improved level of service we now offer our patients,” said Davis Cracroft , emergency medicine physician and senior director of medical affairs at Scripps Mercy Hospital. “A significant percentage of our patients were understandably unhappy about the long waiting times to see a physician in the emergency department, but that is now rarely the case.”

The new process has resulted in a 91 percent reduction in the number of patients who leave without treatment. There has also been more than a 97 percent decrease in the amount of time both hospital campuses spend on ambulance bypass, a process frequently used when emergency rooms are unable to accept additional patients and ambulances must take patients to another facility.

“By reducing our patient waiting times and redesigning our assessment and treatment process around the needs of our patients, we have transformed the care we deliver in the emergency department,” said Lori Burnell, RN, Chief Nursing and Operations Executive at Scripps Mercy Hospital. “In my 32-year nursing career I have not previously experienced a change of this magnitude.”

Scripps Mercy has one of San Diego County’s busiest emergency departments and treats close to 100,000 patients each year between the hospital’s two campuses. The new process was driven by physicians and staff to improve patient satisfaction. The change in process has not only improved patient access to care, it has the potential to save Scripps more than $9 million per year.

As a result of the program’s success, it will expand to Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas and Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla in the next two months.

About Scripps Health

Founded in 1924 by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, Scripps Health is a $2.3 billion nonprofit community health system based in San Diego, Calif. Scripps treats a half-million patients annually through the dedication of 2,500 affiliated physicians and 13,000 employees among its five acute-care hospital campuses, home health care services, and an ambulatory care network of physician offices and 22 outpatient centers and clinics. Scripps has been recognized by Thomson Reuters as one of the Top 10 health systems in the nation for quality care. Scripps is also at the forefront of clinical research, genomic medicine, wireless health and graduate medical education. With three highly respected graduate medical education programs, Scripps is a longstanding member of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

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Kristin Reinhardt
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