Hospital Dr News

New standards to improve ambulatory emergency care in the NHS

Outpatients and the NHS are set to benefit from a new standardised approach to patient care, according to two top doctors’ organisations.

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Society for Acute Medicine have jointly produced standards for Ambulatory Emergency Care (AEC).

AEC is a service that provides same day (outpatient) emergency care to hospital patients where they can be assessed, diagnosed, treated and are able to go home the same day, without being admitted overnight.

Dr Mike Jones, Director of Training at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and Consultant in Acute Medicine, said: “AEC is an important service which provides same day hospital care to patients. AEC units treat a wide variety of common conditions including headaches, diabetes, deep vein thrombosis and cellulitis.

“These joint standards by the College and SAM aim to define the standards that should be adopted in Ambulatory emergency care units. We think that patients deserve to be seen by a doctor or a nurse promptly, and then to have the best treatment possible.”

The standards say:

  • Patients should be initially seen within one hour of entering an AEC unit.
  • Patients will be initially examined by a doctor or nurse, and an assessment will be made based on their symptoms, past medical history and details of any medications they are taking. Patients may need to have some diagnostic tests, like an X-ray or ultrasound scan, and the aim is to get the test results to patients on the same day.
  • During the period of care under the ambulatory team, patients should have clear written instructions for if they feel they are deteriorating or if they wish to discuss concerns prior to their next scheduled visit.
  • Patients should be seen promptly and certainly within one hour by a clinician who has the capabilities to assess and investigate the patient’s symptoms and signs. This clinician should have immediate access to a more senior clinical decision maker for review when the presentation proves more complex.
  • All units undertaking AEC should regularly survey a representative and consecutive number of patients under their care. This should take the form of a short questionnaire. At least 5% of all patients should be surveyed and the total time spent in the unit for each patient should be calculated. This data should be used to improve patient care.
  • A consultant physician should be available on the hospital site day and night throughout the opening times of the AEC unit, to review AEC patients.
  • A nominated clinician from the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) should take responsibility for the overall leadership of the AEC unit to ensure there are active clinical governance and quality improvement processes and strategies.

Dr Nick Scriven, President of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “This is the first time that standards for AEC units have been produced, and it is hoped that all providers, those writing health policy and those commissioning services will adopt them as soon as possible.”

Bookmark and Share

Post a Comment

Enter this security code

Submit Comment for Moderation