Emergency department (ED) wait time is an important health system quality indicator. Prolonged consult to decision time (CTDT), the time it takes to reach a disposition decision after receiving a specialty consultation request, can contribute to increased overall length of stay in the ED.
To identify delays in the consultation process for general internal medicine (GIM) and trial interventions to reduce CTDT.
The study was conducted at a large tertiary teaching hospital with GIM inpatient wards at two campuses. Four interventions were trialed over sequential Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles: (1) process mapping, (2) resident education sessions, (3) audit and feedback of CTDT, and (4) adding a swing shift during peak consult volume.
The primary outcome measures were mean CTDT for patients admitted to GIM and the proportion of admitted patients with CTDT of less than 3 hours.
Mean CTDT decreased from 4.61 hours before intervention to 4.18 hours after intervention (p < .0001). The proportion of GIM patients with CTDT less than 3 hours increased from 25% to 33% (p < .0001).
The interventions trialed led to a sustained reduction in CTDT over a 12-month period and demonstrated the effectiveness of education in influencing physician performance.