Original Research

An initiative to reduce psychiatric boarding in a Cape Town emergency department

Clint A. Hendrikse, Peter Hodkinson, Daniël J. van Hoving
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 29 | a2075 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v29i0.2075 | © 2023 Clint A. Hendrikse, Peter Hodkinson, Daniël J. van Hoving | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 March 2023 | Published: 14 November 2023

About the author(s)

Clint A. Hendrikse, Division of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town; and Emergency Department, Mitchells Plain Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa
Peter Hodkinson, Division of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Daniël J. van Hoving, Division of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Psychiatric boarding in Emergency Departments (ED) is a global challenge which results in long ED length of stays (LOS) with significant consequences on patient care and staff safety.

Aim: This study investigated the impact of an initiative to reduce psychiatric boarding on LOS and readmission rate, as well as explored the relationship between boarding times and LOS.

Setting: This study was conducted at Mitchells Plain Hospital, a large district-level hospital in Cape Town.

Methods: This cross-sectional study collected data for 24 months, which included a 9-month period prior to the initiative and 16 months thereafter. Data were collected retrospectively from official electronic patient registries. The initiative comprised of inpatient hallway boarding as a full-capacity protocol with the accompanying capacitation of psychiatric wards to accommodate the additional burden.

Results: The initiative was associated with a decrease of 95% (p < 0.001) in boarding time, 13% (p < 0.001) in ward LOS and 25% (p < 0.001) in hospital LOS. Ward LOS were found to be independent of ED boarding times. The readmission rate increased from 12% to 18% post intervention.

Conclusion: The initiative resulted in a sustainable improvement in boarding times and LOSs. The observational nature of this study precludes concrete conclusions and further investigations into psychiatric inpatient hallway boarding are recommended.

Contribution: Inpatient hallway boarding could be a feasible option to reduce the risk. Psychiatric boarding times in the ED are independent of ward LOS, rendering it devoid from any value from a lean and economic perspective.


Keywords

psychiatric boarding; access block; emergency medicine; readmission rate; crowding

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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