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Time target saving lives in hospitals

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/11/2016 Sean Martin

Reducing the amount of time patients spend in emergency departments has saved hundreds of lives, new research from the University of Auckland has found.

Patients across New Zealand spend an hour less in emergency rooms on average now than they did before the government introduced national targets in 2009, according to Dr Peter Jones.

The Auckland City Hospital emergency medicine research director co-led the investigation with university researcher Dr Linda Chalmers.

"We found the introduction of the six-hour target was associated with a substantial 50 per cent reduction in the number of patient deaths in emergency departments - that's about 700 fewer deaths than predicted if pre-target trends had continued," Dr Jones said.

He said there was no evidence of deaths shifting to other areas of the hospital, with no increase recorded in ward deaths.

District Health Boards have spent $52 million to make the target work and as a result patients were spending an average of seven hours less in hospital since the target was introduced.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman welcomed the research which required strong commitment from staff and major process changes.

"We know that when ED and wider hospital teams work collaboratively towards achieving the target then real improvements in patient care can be achieved," he said.

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