How to know when your system is efficient

In EM, we’re constantly wondering if we’re seeing patients rapidly enough: nobody wants the MI who’s been sitting in the wating room for an hour, for example.

Today I saw a patient that told me we’re seeing patients rapidly.  A patient called EMS with a somewhat less than urgent complaint, was transported to our ED, dropped off at triage, triaged, and placed in a room.

I still got there in time to see this patient sitting up and eating the middle third of their pint of ice cream, and it was still nice and frozen.

It’s a good system.


  1. As a scribe, I know I’m doing damn fine work if we’re beating the patients to the room or the doc is talking to EMS as they’re moving the patient to the bed.

    That said, our triage could be faster, but as I understand we’re short staffed.

  2. Did you get a bite?

  3. TheNewGuy says:

    Did the patient have a 3-pints-at-a-time BMI?

  4. And that’s why you’re the preferred site for primary care!

  5. Let me guess the chief complaint: nausea and vomiting?

  6. The ice cream reminds me of a clinical sign I invented when I was a resident covering the ER – the bag of potato chips sign. If the patient was sitting there eating a bag of chips from the vending machine, she did not have a surgical abdomen.