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The expected effects of an acute medical unit on the amount and type of acute patients admitted to the general medical wards and the experienced workload of nurses

Maas, E.W. van der (2011) The expected effects of an acute medical unit on the amount and type of acute patients admitted to the general medical wards and the experienced workload of nurses.

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Abstract:Introduction. The establishment of Acute Medical Units (AMUs) in hospitals is growing in popularity as a solution for the problem of bed shortages. An AMU can be seen as a buffer between the emergency department and the general medical wards. Patients can stay for a maximum of 24, 48 or 72 hours at the AMU. Deventer Hospital is currently considering to implement an AMU at their hospital. It wants to stabilize the process of arrival of new acute patients to the medical wards, lower the experienced workload of nurses, shorten the length of hospital stay and reduce the amount of admission stops and patients at a ‘second best’ or even inappropriate ward. The hospital wants to determine whether this is established by implementing an AMU. This study therefore focused on two expected effects of an AMU: a) a change in the amount and type of acute patients arriving to the general medical wards and b) a lower experienced workload of nurses. Methods. To analyze the changes in the amount and type of acute patients arriving to the general medical wards, patient data of all acute patients arriving to the emergency department in 2010 were used. Of those acute patients, the patients eligible for an AMU were analyzed. The length of hospital stay per ward and per medical specialty was studied with a statistical program. Those patients with a shorter length of hospital stay of 24, 48 or 72 hours will not go to the wards in case of an AMU. With this information, the amount and type of patients still going to the wards is calculated. A validated questionnaire, the NASA-TLX, is used to determine the experienced workload of nurses at the wards. The effect of patient type (elective vs. acute) and the effect of ward occupation (average vs. busy) on the experienced workload were measured. The web-based questionnaire was sent via e-mail to all nurses (N = 193) of the six general medical wards of Deventer Hospital. Results. In 2010, 9,098 acute patients were admitted to a department in the hospital after arrival at the emergency department. 5,039 acute patients were eligible for admittance to an AMU of 24, 48 or 72 hours. A total of 18 medical specialties were distinguished in the patient files. Of the 5,039 patients, the medical specialties internal medicine and surgery have the largest amount of admitted acute patients. These two medical specialties both have a relative long length of average hospital stay of respectively 160.2 and 138.0 hours. Medical specialties with fewer admitted acute patients like dermatology, oral surgery and ophthalmology (mostly admitted to E2) are the medical specialties at the general wards that will mostly be affected by implementing an AMU. These specialties have an overall shorter length of hospital stay, which is why fewer patients of these specialties will have to be admitted to one of the general wards. Ward E2 will be the most affected regarding the amount of acute patients and B2 will be the least affected. Between 2 and 13 percent of the total hours of hospital stay at each ward would have been taken away from each general ward when an AMU was implemented at Deventer Hospital. An AMU of 24 beds can be sufficient for the hospital in case of a maximum stay of 24 hours; 34 or 44 beds for an AMU with respectively a maximum stay of 48 hours or 72 hours at the AMU. The response to the questionnaire was 56.5% (109 nurses). The effect of patient type on the experienced workload was small, but did show a significantly increased workload with the admission of an acute patient (an average Weighted Workload (WWL) score of 48.8) in comparison with an elective patient (average WWL: 44.6). The effect of the ward occupation on the experienced workload was large: a busy ward occupation (average WWL: 76.6) leads to a much higher experienced workload of the nurses, compared to an average ward occupation (average WWL: 48.8). Conclusion. In conclusion, the changes in the amount and type of acute patients at the general wards and the experienced workload of nurses need to be assessed when considering to implement an AMU at a hospital. The expected effects of an AMU on the amount and type of acute patients arriving at the general wards are that between 2 and 13 percent of the total hours of hospital stay at each ward would have been taken away from each general ward if an AMU was implemented at Deventer Hospital. An AMU will therefore accomplish a considerable change in the hours of hospital stay at the general wards, especially with an AMU of 72 hours. This study also showed that the experienced workload of nurses is mostly dependent on the ward occupation; the effect of patient type on the workload is small. In case of an AMU, unplanned acute patients will no longer arrive at the general wards. The acute patients can be scheduled for transfer to a ward, so they become elective patients in a way. This however will not lead to a considerable lower experienced workload for the nurses. Outlook. Last, but not least: what does this mean for Deventer Hospital? Analyzing the acute patients admitted to the Deventer Hospital in 2010, which are eligible for an AMU, an AMU of 24 beds can be sufficient for the hospital in case of a maximum stay of 24 hours. With a maximum stay of 48 hours or 72 hours at the AMU, a total amount of respectively 34 or 44 beds can be sufficient for the AMU. An AMU however, is probably not the solution to lower the experienced workload of nurses at the general wards of Deventer Hospital. Instead, the hospital can focus on better planning of transfers of acute patients from the emergency department to the general wards and a better administration of medication lists to establish a lower experienced workload in general.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Clients:
Deventer Ziekenhuis, Deventer, the Netherlands
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Health Sciences MSc (66851)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/62379
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