A disaster situation for a healthcare facility occurs when the need for medical treatment overwhelms the actual treatment capacity. Emergency department (ED) overcrowding occurs because of the sudden patient influx in a disaster situation. Consequences of overcrowding range from death and permanent disability to lengthening of treatment duration. Reduction of these adverse events through better ED design is the main motivation behind this study. There are 2 possible approaches to analyze this problem (1) by measuring patient waiting times in order to determine the bottlenecks in terms of duration and frequency or (2) by improving the physical design of the ED.
In this study, we adopt the second approach for both newly designed and existing EDs. We construct new ED design using the facility layout planning algorithms. As for existing designs, we use simulation software in order to analyze the impact of new ideas, rules, and strategies without causing disruptions in ED service and before implementing any changes.
The result shows a new construction layout design for ED using facility layout planning algorithm, in a manner conducive to overcoming the overcrowding consequences as much as possible. Also, the patient’s waiting time to receive treatment is decreased by 71% after improving the design for ED in Malta, which suffers from overcrowding by using simulation software. Finally, we do not claim that this is the best design for ED, but we can consider it as a step on the way toward a better ED design.