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Hospital Performance: Time patients spent in emergency departments in 2011–12

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Time in ED: differences between peer groups

In 2011–2012, there were approximately 5.9 million presentations to the 134 public hospital EDs included in this report. These presentations accounted for the vast majority (90%) of the total ED presentations in the national data collection. Nearly one-third of these patients were admitted from ED to a ward in the same hospital.

Nationally there were large differences between hospital peer groups2, and between hospitals within peer groups, in the length of time all patients spent in ED.

Major metropolitan and regional hospitals accounted for almost 4 million of the 5.9 million ED presentations in 2011–12 that are covered by this report, and had the lowest percentage of all patients departing within four hours of arrival.

Across major and large hospital groups, metropolitan hospitals had lower percentages than regional peer-grouped hospitals.

Large regional hospitals saw almost 395,000 ED presentations in 2011–12, and had the highest percentage departing within four hours.

There were also large differences between hospital peer groups, and between hospitals within peer groups, in the percentages of subsequently admitted patients who departed ED within four hours, and the percentage of discharged patients.

Percentage of all patients departing ED within four hours of arrival

In 2011–12 the percentage of all patients departing ED within four hours of arrival varied between peer groups:

  • Major metropolitan hospitals: 54%
  • Major regional hospitals: 63%
  • Large metropolitan hospitals: 67%
  • Large regional hospitals: 78%
  • Medium hospitals: 76% (see Table 2 and Figure 1)

Time until most admitted patients (90%) departed ED

In 2011–12 the period of time until most patients (90%) departed ED for admission to a ward in the same hospital varied between and across peer groups:

  • Major metropolitan hospitals: 14 hours and 59 minutes
  • Major regional hospitals: 16 hours and 57 minutes
  • Large metropolitan hospitals: 12 hours and 29 minutes
  • Large regional hospitals: 12 hours and 24 minutes
  • Medium hospitals: 12 hours and 15 minutes (see Table 3)

There is no national target for this measure.

Table 2: Percentage of all patients departing ED within four hours of arrival, by peer group, 2011–12

  National peer
performance
(%)
Highest percentage in
national peer group
(%)
Lowest percentage in
national peer group
(%)
Major metropolitan hospitals 54 74 33
Major regional hospitals 63 79 47
Large metropolitan hospitals 67 83 48
Large regional hospitals 78 92 61
Medium hospitals 76 93 41

Source: National Non-admitted Patient Emergency Department Care Collection Database 2011–12, data extracted 5 November 2012.

Table 3: Length of time in hours and minutes until most admitted patients (90%) departed ED, by peer group, 2011–12

  National peer
performance
(hr:min)
Shortest time in
national peer group
(hr:min)
Longest time in
national peer group
(hr:min)
Major metropolitan hospitals 14:59 8:24 27:24
Major regional hospitals 16:57 8:00 27:59
Large metropolitan hospitals 12:29 7:29 17:46
Large regional hospitals 12:24 5:28 20:14
Medium hospitals 12:15 6:23 19:13

Source: National Non-admitted Patient Emergency Department Care Collection Database 2011–12, data extracted 5 November 2012.

2. Peer performance results are weighted averages calculated using presentation-level data for all hospitals in the group.

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