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.