Transferring an emergency patient to another emergency department (ED) is necessary when she/he is unable to receive necessary treatment from the first visited ED, although the transfer poses potential risks for adverse clinical outcomes and lowering the quality of emergency medical services by overcrowding the transferred ED. This study aimed to understand the factors affecting the ED length of stay (LOS) of critically ill patients and to investigate whether they are receiving prompt treatment through Interhospital Transfer (IHT).
This study analyzed 968 critically ill patients transferred to the ED of the study site in 2019. Machine learning based prediction models were built to predict the ED LOS dichotomized as greater than 6 hours or less. Explanatory variables in patient characteristics, clinical characteristics, transfer-related characteristics, and ED characteristics were selected through univariate analyses.
Among the prediction models, the Logistic Regression (AUC 0.85) model showed the highest prediction performance, followed by Random Forest (AUC 0.83) and Naïve Bayes (AUC 0.83). The Logistic Regression model suggested that the need for emergency operation or angiography (OR 3.91, 95% CI=1.65–9.21), the need for Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admission (OR 3.84, 95% CI=2.53–5.83), fewer consultations (OR 3.57, 95% CI=2.84–4.49), a high triage level (OR 2.27, 95% CI=1.43–3.59), and fewer diagnoses (OR 1.32, 95% CI=1.09–1.61) coincided with a higher likelihood of 6-hour-or-less stays in the ED. Furthermore, an interhospital transfer handoff led to significantly shorter ED LOS among the patients who needed emergency operation or angiography, or ICU admission, or had a high triage level.
The results of this study suggest that patients prioritized in emergency treatment receive prompt intervention and leave the ED in time. Also, having a proper interhospital transfer handoff before IHT is crucial to provide efficient care and avoid unnecessarily longer stay in ED.