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Hospital receives honor for safety

Enumclaw Regional Hospital is a co-recipient of the Washington State Medical Association’s 2010 patient safety award for reducing the length of time that patients wait to see a doctor in the emergency department.

Both the hospital and Northwest Emergency Physicians of TeamHealth received the William O. Robertson, M.D. Patient Safety Award for Achievement during the medical association’s annual meeting Sept. 24 in Tacoma.

The prestigious award recognizes the combined efforts of the hospital and its emergency department physicians to implement a rapid process for assessing and triaging patients. This has quickened the “door-to-doctor” time and reduced the number of individuals that choose to leave before seeing a physician.

In September 2010, for example, the average time that emergency department patients waited to see a physician was only 16 minutes – this was 36 minutes faster than 12 months earlier, said Dr. Richard Dickson, manager of the Enumclaw Regional Hospital Emergency Department.

Also, the number of individuals who chose to leave without being seen by a doctor dropped to 0.8 percent in September. By comparison, 3.4 percent of those who walked into the emergency department in August 2009 chose to leave rather than wait.

“Our ability to reduce the number of patients who leave without being seen by a doctor is extremely important for patient safety,” Dickson said. “Often, individuals become impatient with waiting and decide to leave even though they need medical attention. Untreated medical and health problems can worsen or become more complex, putting the individuals at great risk.”

The hospital’s emergency department staff was able to achieve shorter wait times and improve patient safety while implementing a sophisticated electronic medical record system for nurses and a computerized order entry program for use by physicians.

“Even with these significant process changes, we are now seeing patients 36 minutes faster than last year,” said hospital President Dennis Popp. “I am very proud of our emergency department team. The physicians, our nurses and other team members care deeply about quality, safety and patient satisfaction.”

The community hospital’s emergency department receives more than 1,000 patient visits every month. Its new rapid process for assessing and triaging patients will continue in the replacement hospital that will open on Feb. 2, 2011 across the street from the existing facility. The new $75 million facility, which will be called St. Elizabeth Hospital, will have 12 private treatment rooms in the state-of-the-art emergency department and a rooftop helipad for use as needed.

Enumclaw Regional Hospital was established in 1949. It joined the Franciscan Health System in May 2007.

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