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Study shows special emergency unit saves lives

21 October 2008

A new study shows that a medical unit developed by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for patients who need emergency medical care has reduced the number of deaths, the average length of stay and the amount of time patients have to wait in A&E.

A new study shows that a medical unit developed by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for patients who need emergency medical care has reduced the number of deaths, the average length of stay and the amount of time patients have to wait in A&E.

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital’s Acute Medical Unit (AMU) is a self-contained rapid assessment unit which opened in August 2007 to speed up admission and hospital treatment for patients.

Professor Derek Bell and Dr Gary Davies at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital who led the evaluation said:

“The aim of the AMU is to ensure that patients’ care is well co-ordinated leading to early diagnosis, prompt treatment and earlier discharge from hospital.

“The AMU has a dedicated phone line so GPs or staff in the hospital’s A&E department can refer patients directly. If patients are admitted to the AMU they have direct access to a team of healthcare professionals including nurses, doctors, therapists and pharmacists.  All of these measures help to speed up the admission and treatment process.

“Our evaluation showed there was a decrease in the number of patients dying from acute medical conditions. In 2007 the number of patients who died was 1.1% (25 deaths in 2221 patients) compared to 1.6% (34 deaths in 2096) in 2005.

“There was also a reduction in the time medical patients had to wait in A&E and a reduction in the average hospital stay for those requiring hospital admission. In 2005 the average length of stay was 8.8 days but after the Unit was developed that was reduced to 6.9 days, with no increase in readmissions.

“The evaluation clearly shows that the AMU is having a positive impact and is improving the quality of care that patients receive. However we are not complacent and further improvements are planned in the next year.”

Ends.

Notes to editors:

  • The AMU provides specialist care for adult patients with a wide range of medical conditions.
  • The AMU has 21 inpatient beds, a relatives’ room, a therapy area to provide rapid access to therapies, a treatment room for outpatient assessments and a treadmill to assess patients with suspected heart problems.
  • Media enquiries to the Press office 020 3315 6828/9 9am-5pm Mon-Fri (Pager 07659 125409 at all other times)

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