Let’s talk about your EHR needs: 1.800.383.6278  

Tuesday September 7, 2021  |  Stassia Sullivan, MD, The Sullivan Group

Best Practices for Managing Seconds-to-Minutes Emergencies

several clocks on a wall

Shorter emergency department (ED) wait times reduce an organization’s medical malpractice risk.

In fact, one study found patients at EDs with an average wait time of more than 60 minutes were 4.16 times more likely to file a malpractice claim than patients at EDs who waited less than 30 minutes.

Seconds-to-minutes in the ED frequently manifest as complicated cases requiring immediate evaluation and treatment. Your team must understand the nature of seconds-to-minutes emergencies so they can attack these cases expeditiously and with confidence. With a plan already in place, each medical team member can accomplish their specific tasks quickly and efficiently.

Identifying Key Presentations of Second-to-Minute Emergencies

Seconds-to-minutes emergencies are a great source of angst for the ED team. Often In these situations, the best a practitioner will hope for is organized chaos. It is critical to have a clearly defined list of presentations for consideration in the time frame of seconds-to-minutes.

Goals for the ED team should include early recognition of seconds-to-minutes emergencies, expedited evaluation and treatment, and the assignment of tasks to team members. In addition, early communication with consultants is critical.

The Sullivan Group has identified eight clinical presentations that are seconds-to-minutes complaints in the ED.

  • Abdominal pain in patients over 50 years of age
  • Chest pain in patients over 30 years of age
  • Fevers in infants less than 30 days old
  • Headaches ranked as worst ever
  • Pulseless extremities
  • Signs/symptoms of possible stroke
  • Signs symptoms of sepsis
  • Scrotal pain that is acute onset

Because of the time-sensitive nature of these emergencies, it is critical to have clinical decision support available via your EHR. Access to such rapid response solutions at the bedside helps clinicians quickly identify these high-risk situations and prevent adverse outcomes.

Risk-enhanced triage support – such as that available in MEDHOST’s Risk Mitigation Module, built in partnership with The Sullivan Group – allows the triage nurse to elevate the priority of a seconds-to-minutes emergency quickly. This early identification can lead to significant reductions in door-to-physician time for these high-risk clinical presentations. These are then highlighted on the MEDHOST EDIS Tracking Board and Locator Board, bringing the ED team together around the highest acuity presentations.

Seconds-to-minutes emergencies are high-risk disease processes that clinicians must quickly identify and manage efficiently to avoid devastating consequences to the patient. Recognizing and planning for these presentations before the patient comes through the door will enable you and your team to attack these cases expeditiously and with confidence.

To learn more about how MEDHOST and The Sullivan Group work together to help your ED operate with improved speed, efficiency, and greater accuracy, please reach out to us at or call 1.800.383.6278.

About The Sullivan Group

The Sullivan Group (TSG) provides trusted clinical content to improve patient safety and reduce diagnostic error. Drawing from 20 years of research into adverse outcomes and analysis of 350,000 high-risk patients, TSG delivers clinical decision support at the bedside aligned with the mental workflow to ensure the highest quality care is delivered to every patient. Their RSQ® Solutions platform has delivered over 1 million courses to 95,000 clinicians impacting 20 million patient visits annually at over 1,000 acute care facilities.

You may also be interested in: