After-hours clinic reduces hospital ER crowding

Hospitals have been trying different methods to reduce wait times and ease the overcrowding of strained emergency rooms (ERs). One hospital in Canada has found success with an after-hours medical clinic (AHC), according to a study published in the Journal of Primary Care and Community Health.

Researchers from the University of Alberta examined the town of Leduc, Alberta, which has an after-hours clinic open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m, Monday through Thursday.

Once patients had availability of an after-hours clinic, visits to the local hospital's emergency room dropped 40 percent, mostly due to fewer semi-urgent patients seeking emergency care, according to the study.

Yet, David Jones, a PhD student at the university's school of public health, notes that hospitals must take into account population size; after-hours clinics must have enough room to actually impact ER utilization, notes CBC News.

These findings suggest that offering after-hours care services outside hospital walls could help dissuade patients with non-life-threatening conditions from going to the ER, allowing urgent patients to be treated quicker and emergency doctors to provide more efficient care.

To learn more:
- read the CBC News article
- here's the study abstract
- check out the press release