Fast-Tracking Patients Shortens Hospital Stays Says Craigavon Consultant

L ' R Sister Judith Smith, Sharon Holmes, Ward Manager, Mr Seamus O'Reilly, Clinical Director for Emergency Medicine and Rachel Greer, Nurse, pictured at the Clinical Decision Unit in Craigavon Area Hospital
L ' R Sister Judith Smith, Sharon Holmes, Ward Manager, Mr Seamus O'Reilly, Clinical Director for Emergency Medicine and Rachel Greer, Nurse, pictured at the Clinical Decision Unit in Craigavon Area Hospital

THE introduction of measures to ‘fast track’ patients through Craigavon Area Hospital in recent years has led to patients getting the right care more quickly says Seamus O’Reilly, Clinical Director for Emergency Medicine at Craigavon.

Mr O’Reilly says the establishment, in 2006, of the Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) in the Emergency Department is one measure that has reduced the time patients now have to stay in hospital for assessment and treatment.

He said: “The CDU is a short stay unit (up to 24 hours) set up to allow doctors and nurses to see, assess, investigate and treat patients more quickly, from the Emergency Department who do not need emergency care but do need medical attention.
The introduction of the Clinical Decision Unit has contributed to a 3% reduction in the number of patient admissions to Craigavon Area Hospital. This means that significantly more patients are now being assessed, investigated and treated faster without having to stay overnight in hospital.”

Patients come to the Clinical Decision Unit for further investigation, observation or to wait for results of investigations performed in the Emergency Department.

Senior doctors and nurses manage patients in the Unit and a senior doctor will decide, following a medical assessment, whether a patient should be admitted to a ward or discharged home.

The Unit doesn’t specialise in any one particular area of medicine, but handles all acute medical problems. Examples of conditions managed include; minor head injuries, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), fainting/loss of consciousness.

Mr O’Reilly finished by saying:“We are constantly looking for ways to ensure that the hospital is operating in the most effective way possible. Instead of waiting in the Emergency Department, patients who do not need critical care are diverted to The Clinical Decision Unit to get them the right treatment they need, more quickly. This might mean admission to a ward for an overnight stay or arranging a follow up appointment in our Day Clinical Centre or an Outpatients appointment.

“Transforming Your Care, the Review of Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland recommends better use of hospitals to ensure that patients get the right care, at the right time and in the right place. In The Southern Trust, we have been working toward this for many years and we will continue to introduce measures that will ensure that our hospitals are operating in the most effective way possible for the benefit of our all our patients.”