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Archive February 2018 XIX, No. 2

How to Succeed With Outpatient Trauma

Position your facility as an urgent care center that can send the boy with the fractured arm home in a cast, not a sling.

Jim Burger

Jim Burger, Senior Editor


Gabe, Broken Arm
ADD-ON TRAUMA CASE The key to adding outpatient trauma care to your facility is having the flexibility to diagnose and treat patients in the hours or days after they sustained their injury.

Running, jumping, climbing, playing. Those are the things that healthy active kids (and adults) do. Unfortunately, the sounds of laughter and joy that accompany healthy activities are also occasionally accompanied by the snap, crackle and pop of bones and tendons. Rather than head to the hospital emergency room or urgent care center in the strip mall, a growing number of patients are seeking out care — and next-day appointments with orthopods — at outpatient surgical facilities. We talked to several facilties who are triaging and treating sidelined warriors about the keys to success.

'It's all about access'

A few years ago, as urgent care centers were popping up around her, Monica Eckhardt RN, MSN, wondered why her facility couldn't go one step further. "Often, they'd give patients the names of orthopods to follow up with, but they still couldn't be seen quick enough," says Ms. Eckhardt, service line administrator for neurosciences and orthopedics at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, Pa. "I said, 'How can we make this work?'"

The key was to convince her 45 orthopedic surgeons to hold open certain times for patients with fractures and other manageable traumas that could be seen and treated either at the hospital's surgery center or at another nearby ASC. Besides that commitment, all that's needed is a dedicated phone line.

"When patients call, they get a nurse who does a very brief intake to find out what the chief complaint is," says Ms. Eckhardt. "Typically, we see strains and sprains, although there could be minor fractures. It's typically injuries from daily living — trips and falls, sports, things of that nature."

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