Applying quality improvement principles to improve accident and emergency department overcrowding and flow in Rwanda: a case study

Jean Claude Byiringiro, Rex Wong, Caroline Davis, Jeffery Williams, Joseph Becker, Joseph Novik, Christine Uwineza, Chance Delphine Mukakamali, Theobald Hategekimana, Martin Nyundo


Few case studies exist related to hospital accident and emergency department (A&E) quality improvement efforts in lowerresourced settings. We sought to report the impact of quality improvement principles applied to A&E overcrowding and flow in the largest referral and teaching hospital in Rwanda. A pre- and post-intervention study was conducted. A linked set of strategies included reallocating room space based on patient/visitor demand and flow, redirecting traffic, establishing a patient triage system and installing white boards to facilitate communication. Two months post-implementation, the average number of patients boarding in the A&E hallways significantly decreased from 28 (pre-intervention) to zero (post-intervention), p < .001. Foot traffic per dayshift hour significantly decreased from 221 people to 160 people (28%, p < .001), and non-A&E related foot traffic decreased from 81.4% to 36.3% (45% decrease, p < .001). One hundred percent of the A&E patients have been formally triaged since the implementation of the newly established triage system. Our project used quality improvement principles to reduce the number of patients boarding in the hallways and to decrease unnecessary foot traffic in the A&E department with little investment from the hospital. Key success factors included a collaborative multidisciplinary project team, strong internal champions, data-driven analysis, evidence-based interventions, senior leadership support, and rapid application of initial implementation learnings. Results to date show the application of quality improvement principles can help hospitals in resource-limited settings improve quality of care at relatively low cost.

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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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