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A Multidisciplinary Care Coordination Team Improves Emergency Department Discharge Planning Practice
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In response to difficulties meeting the demand for hospital services ("access block") at Royal Melbourne Hospital, a major metropolitan tertiary referral hospital, an audit of patient needs revealed a shortage of aged-care beds and a need for post-acute care.

A multidisciplinary Care Coordination Team (CCT) was formed at the end of July 2000 to ensure that emergency department patients were provided with services that would facilitate their return to, or maintenance in, the community.

The target population included the frail elderly, those living alone, the homeless, frequent emergency department attenders, and those with complex medical or drug and alcohol problems. As part of routine emergency department care, a risk screen was implemented to determine referral to the CCT.

In the first 12 months, the CCT saw 2532 patients (5.8% of all emergency department attendances). Nearly half of these patients were discharged home with referrals to community service providers.

The rate of hospital admission from the emergency department fell significantly compared with the 12-month period before implementation of the CCT (13 420 patients, 30.9% [95% CI, 30.5–31.3] v 14 217 patients, 32.6% [95% CI, 32.2–33.0]; P < 0.001).

Surveys of staff, patients and carers, as well as community service providers, showed a high level of satisfaction with the CCT. (Authors)
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