Emergency Department Care

Timely and effective care in the emergency department is critical to providing high-quality care. Because there is a wide range of urgency and medical need in people who present to the emergency department and because space may be limited, UAB utilizes a triage system to identify those at greatest risk of harm. Triage is the process of evaluating patients to determine which ones need the most urgent medical attention. Based on this evaluation, patients with the most urgent medical needs are seen first, while patients with less urgent medical needs will be seen as soon as possible. Wait times can vary greatly and depend on many variables, including the number of patients needing medical attention, the number of medical staff on duty, the number of available treatment rooms, and the number of available hospital rooms for patients who need to be admitted.

UAB Medicine is the only hospital in Alabama that has been designated as a Level 1 Adult Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons and is the regional referral center for head trauma, spinal cord trauma, burns, and other serious conditions. Level 1 Trauma Centers provide the full range of care for traumatic injuries, from initial injury to rehabilitation. They also provide community leadership in trauma prevention and public education, participate in teaching and research to improve trauma care, and play an active role in substance abuse screening and patient intervention. The UAB Medicine Emergency Department is also a part of the busiest and most comprehensive stroke center in Alabama. UAB’s Emergency Department sees approximately 200 patients each day, a volume that places us in the highest category of all measured health care organizations.

How does UAB Medicine perform?

Timely & Effective Measures National Average Alabama Average UAB Hospital Comparison Analysis
Emergency Department Care: percentage of patients who left the emergency department before being seen 2% 3% 5%  
Emergency Department Care: average time patients spent in the emergency department before they were seen by a health care professional 25 minutes 31 minutes 27 minutes  
Emergency Department Care: average time patients spent in the emergency department before they were admitted to the hospital as an inpatient 332 minutes 339 minutes 434 minutes  
Emergency Department Care: average time patients spent in the emergency department after the doctor decided to admit them as an inpatient before leaving the emergency department for their inpatient room 140 minutes 112 minutes 134 minutes  
Emergency Department Care: average time patients spent in the emergency department before leaving from the visit 170 minutes 151 minutes 212 minutes  

What is UAB Medicine doing to improve?

UAB Medicine is experiencing growth as a result of the excellent care provided, as evidenced by our patients’ satisfaction in their care. The number of patients seeking care at UAB Medicine continues to grow. In order to plan for and provide expedited care throughout the health system, UAB Medicine has worked hard on various initiatives to help us to continue expanding our services to provide excellent health care to more patients. The following initiatives help us move patients who need admission out of the Emergency Department faster:

  • Expedited admission process to the Center for Psychiatric Medicine for patients presenting to the Emergency Department for psychiatric health care
  • Implemented transition of care rounds to ensure that patients are receiving timely care, focused on enabling patients to be discharged sooner
  • Established a dedicated team of Environmental Services specialists to provide expedited cleaning of newly available rooms
  • Opened a Cardiopulmonary Critical Care Unit, providing 19 additional ICU beds
  • Expanded Observation Unit with 27 new beds

The following facilities and services offer greater access to nearby urgent/emergency care, which expands services to more communities and decreases the number of patients presenting to the UAB Emergency Department:

  • UAB Medicine Urgent Care Clinic
  • UAB Hospital-Highlands Emergency Department
  • Freestanding Emergency Department at UAB Medicine of Gardendale