Drive Thru Medical Assessment Experiment


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Drive-thru medical experiment conducted at Stanford Hospital and Clinic

This might actually be a good idea as long as no one needs a bathroom. Get them in and get them out fast! Who knew?

...drivers and passengers were examined by a team of Stanford doctors and nurses, all without getting out of their cars.

In what is believed to be the first training exercise in the country, a team of health care professionals at Stanford Hospital & Clinics turned the first floor of a parking garage into a drive-through emergency room Friday morning in hopes of creating a more efficient way to treat a large number of patients during an influenza pandemic or other emergency.

Dr. Eric Weiss, medical director for disaster planning at Stanford Hospital and Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, believes the drive-through triage can serve as a blueprint for hospitals nationwide and across the globe.

"Everywhere throughout the country, during flu season, emergency rooms are absolutely overwhelmed and bursting at the seams," Weiss said. ...We have to have a new mechanism to take care of large numbers of patients during a pandemic and I think that this is going to be it."

Dr. Greg Gilbert, a Stanford clinical professor and medical director for San Mateo County, came up with the idea of a drive-through triage a few years ago while doing pandemic flu planning with Weiss. At first he thought of creating a tent outside the ER, but scrapped that idea that would require people standing outdoors during winter.

The drive-thru idea came to him while resting in bed. He thought "everyone has cars, why not keep them in cars," which would, keep people from infecting others. Weiss said, "We thought this would be a great way to use the automobile as a self-contained contamination.

The volunteer patients made their way through the drive-thru triage as though they were being seen at the emergency room. As cars entered the parking garage, patients registered and were given paperwork. They then drove through one of two lines and stopped at the first station, triage, where nurses and emergency department technicians checked for vital signs-temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and respiration-and gathered the patients' medical backgrounds. Doctors, nurses and other medical staff wore gowns and gloves throughout the exercise.

From there, patients drove another 10 to 15 feet for a medical screening exam, where doctors reviewed the symptoms and made a diagnosis. Finally, they were discharged or admitted to the hospital.

During the exercise, a team of physicians and medical staff observed and evaluated the process. Over the next several days, Stanford doctors will review the data and try and find ways to streamline the process. The results will likely be published in a journal and begin to spread through the medical community, Gilbert said.

"We will determine the times and see how much faster we were than we would be in a typical setting when patients come into emergency departments and go to examination rooms," Weiss said. "I think we're going to find this is much faster, just as effective and look at how we can make even it more efficient."

(hat tip PFI/Spirit in the Wind 2)

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