Ground breaking approach to emergency care in NSW to be tested

New funding will see a large-scale project launched across NSW to significantly improve patient outcomes and experiences in Emergency Departments.

Chief investigator and Kolling Institute researcher Professor Margaret Fry said more than $2.8 million will be invested in the EPIC-START program, giving patients better access to early evidence-based treatment pathways.

30 Emergency Departments will initially be involved in the project which is aimed at achieving better outcomes through earlier decisions, delivery of care and detection of clinical deterioration.

Professor Fry said a new approach is needed with our Emergency Departments across NSW facing unprecedented demand.

“We know that millions of Australians seeking care in our EDs are confronted by overcrowded waiting rooms, ambulance ramping, time-poor clinicians and long wait times,” she said.

“Overcrowding causes delays in treatment and diagnosis, leading to adverse events and poor patient outcomes.

“Our current models of care are not equipped to deal with this or designed to help patients move through ED efficiently in these situations.”

“The EPIC-START model of care however, will implement data analytic tools and evidence-based clinical pathways to improve patient flow.”

The model focuses on faster decision-making and delivery of care. Validated decision support tools will be used at triage to stream patients to various parts of the hospital, with treatments commenced earlier using standardised nurse-initiated pathways across all common illnesses presenting to ED.

“The project will upskill emergency nurses to ensure all patients attending Emergency Departments have access to earlier evidence-based interventions, like pain relief, blood tests and x-rays, rather than waiting hours for a doctor to order them.

“Those who deteriorate despite early interventions will be flagged to senior doctors using electronic alerts based on data in the electronic medical record. This will improve efficiency and safety.

“Our approach is founded on reviews of the literature, our local research outcomes and our real-world experience in Emergency Departments over the past decade. It’s now time to upscale this model for all NSW emergency patients.

“We would like to see a stronger system where all Australians have timely access to high-quality, patient centred emergency care, by using sustainable and data-driven approaches.”