The impact of freestanding emergency departments (FSEDs) on timeliness of care for trauma patients is not well understood. This quality improvement project had 2 objectives: (1) to determine whether significant delays in definitive care existed among trauma patients initially seen at FSEDs compared with those initially seen at other outlying sites prior to transfer to a level I trauma center; and (2) to determine the feasibility of identifying differences in time-to-definitive care and emergency department length of stay (ED LOS) based on initial treatment location.
Trauma registry data from January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017, from a verified level I trauma center were analyzed by location of initial presentation. Appropriate statistical tests are used to make comparisons across transport groups.
Patients initially seen at non-FSEDs experienced ED LOS that were, on average, 24.5 minutes greater than patients seen initially at FSEDs, although the difference was not statistically significant (P = .3112). Several challenges were identified in the feasibility analysis that will inform the design for a larger study including large quantities of missing time stamp data and potential selection bias. Prospective solutions were identified.
This project found that there were not significant differences in ED LOS for injured patients presenting initially to FSEDs or other non-FSED facilities, suggesting that timeliness of care was similar across location types.