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Minimum operational standards for 24/7 available emergency departments in the Netherlands

a first step taken by emergency physicians using an e-Delphi approach

Gaakeer, Menno I.a,b; Veugelers, Rebekkaa; Patka, Peterb; Huijsman, Robbertc on behalf of the Dutch ED Study Group

European Journal of Emergency Medicine: April 2019 - Volume 26 - Issue 2 - p 86–93
doi: 10.1097/MEJ.0000000000000494

Objective The objective of this study was to effectuate a consensus of emergency physicians on minimum requirements for facility, diagnostic, and medical specialist availability as a first step toward minimum operational standards for 24/7 available emergency departments (EDs) in the Netherlands.

Patients and methods A two-part e-Delphi through online survey was performed between January 2015 and May 2016, using a panel of 20 experts in emergency medicine. The aim of part I was to reach an agreement on a list of possible ED elements and their definitions. The second part addressed the actual study objective to reach consensus on operational standards. Successive rounds were submitted to the members of the panel online using SurveyMonkey. Results of each survey round were discussed and interpreted in agreement with all authors in preparation for the next round. Reaching consensus, defined as 70% or more agreement or disagreement among the panel, on the level of all items was the endpoint of this study.

Results Both parts I and II required five rounds. The dropout rate of the expert panel remained zero. The availability of 52 facilities and diagnostic functionalities and the manner in which 17 medical specialties should be available to every 24/7 ED were agreed upon by the expert panel.

Conclusion An expert panel agreed upon minimum operational standards for EDs in the Netherlands. These results are helpful as a first step toward a more widely supported standard for future 24/7 available EDs in the Netherlands and in addition to this other urgent care facilities.

aDepartment of Emergency Medicine, Admiraal De Ruyter Hospital, Goes

bDepartment of Emergency Medicine, Erasmus University Medical Center

cManagement and Organization of Elderly Care, Institute of Health Policy and Management, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Correspondence to Menno I. Gaakeer, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Admiraal De Ruyter Hospital, Postbus 15, 4460 AA Goes, The Netherlands Tel: +31 062 884 0982; e-mail:

Received February 18, 2017

Accepted July 12, 2017

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