Stanford Hospital tests drive-through ED to control pandemic diseases

Though it might sound a bit comical at first--"Hey, doctor, can I have a hamburger, some fries and a throat culture?"--Stanford Hospital hospital's new drive-through ED has a deadly serious purpose. The effort, which allows people to get registered and triaged by nurses while still in their cars, is intended to serve as a model for treating patients during a bioterrorist attack or pandemic.

In this model, patients who appear to have a contagious condition would be asked to head to the hospital's parking garage, where properly prepared doctors would evaluate them further either inside their cars or on cots in the garage.

When Stanford tested the model in June, using 50 vehicles and fake patients, the drive-through cut patients' length of stay by 1.5 hours, and staff were able to accurately assess them in the parking garage.

Stanford was impressed enough with the result that it plans to implement this model if there's a big surge in swine flu virus cases.

To learn more about this model:
- read this Wall Street Journal Health Blog piece

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