Identifying reasons for delays in acute hospitals using the Day-of-Care Survey method

North West London
Published Date: 1 Apr 2015

This paper describes a new tool called ‘Day-of-Care Survey’, developed to assess inpatient delays in acute hospitals. Using literature review, iterative testing and feedback from professional groups, a national multidisciplinary team developed the survey criteria and methodology. Review teams working in pairs visited wards and used case records and bedside charts to assess the patient's status against severity of illness and service intensity criteria. Patients who did not meet the survey criteria for acute care were identified and delays were categorised. From March 2012 to December 2013, nine acute hospitals across Scotland, Australia and England were surveyed. A total of 3,846 adult general inpatient beds (excluding intensive care and maternity) were reviewed. There were 145 empty beds at the time of surveys across the nine sites, with 270 definite discharges planned on the day of the survey. The total number of patients not meeting criteria for acute care was 798/3,431 (23%, range 18−28%). Six factors accounted for 61% (490/798) of the reasons why patients not meeting acute care criteria remained in hospital. This survey gives important insights into the challenges of managing inpatient flow using system level information as a method to target interventions designed to address delay.

Simon Watkin