Are drive-thru ERs the future?

Finding a way to decompress crowded emergency departments is imperative.

Over at Stanford Hospital, doctors there have come up with one novel tool: the so-called “drive-thru ER.” Patients literally don’t have to get out of their cars to receive medical care.

This is especially relevant in the current era of pandemic flu, since patients can use their own cars to reduce the risk of contaminating others.

So, how does it work? Here’s a description of the concept in action:

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.

Pretty cool.

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