If You Have Pneumonia, Which Emergency Department will Give the Timeliest Care?

Field of Work: Quality of care delivered in emergency departments

Problem Synopsis: Concerns about high health care costs and limited quality have led to systems of rating hospital performance and making performance transparent.

Synopsis of the Work: Researchers at Emory University compared charts of patients treated for pneumonia in the emergency departments of two Atlanta hospitals that draw from the same physician pool but serve disparate economic and ethnic populations:

  • Grady Memorial Hospital, a large public safety net institution with many poor, minority, and uninsured patients
  • Emory University Hospital, which has a broader mix of patients and payers

Key Findings/Results

  • Emory University Hospital performed significantly better than Grady Memorial on measures of pneumonia treatment. Time to triage, time to bed, time to see nurse and physician, time to X-ray, and time to antibiotics were all significantly longer at Grady.

  • The study's findings have helped improve the timeliness of care at Grady, according to one of the investigators. "We have been able to improve because the study showed us where the differences were in the two hospital settings, and we were able to address those differences," he says.