In 2010, to expedite throughputin their increasingly busy ED, theUniversity of California San DiegoMedical Center (UCSD) implementedstandardized symptom-based protocols.

This enabled UCSD toleverage the skills of their primarynurses and begin treatment ofpatients with specific symptomologyat the first point of assessment. Withstandardized pathways, patientswith abdominal pain, respiratorycomplaints, or psychiatric needs arereceiving more timely and efficienttreatment. Among the benefits areshorter wait times and a significantincrease in patient satisfaction scores.

As volume continues to grow, EDsthat employ standardized treatmentprotocols upon patient arrival canfurther optimize nurses’ assessmentskills, and more effectively care forpatients across diverse needs. Acutepatients are efficiently triaged andcared for in the appropriate setting,while those with less pressing needscan often be discharged from thewaiting room. Organizations thathave cultivated trust and teamworkbehaviors among providers will bemost successful in employing theseinterventions.

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