I’ve not seen many stories on what is referred to as “universal beds,” “variable acuity units,” or as in this story, “universal patient floor.” The idea behind all these terms is a radically different approach to care delivery. Conventional care delivery is divided into specialized areas through which patients are moved, based on their type of illness, acuity, and whether they’re getting better or worse.

The vast majority of hospitals are organized like this, where their resources are divided based on (rarely met) assumptions about patient volumes. The alternative approach is to admit patients to their “on service” unit (orthopedics, oncology, med/surg, etc.) and rather than tranfering them to a higher acuity unit if their condition deteriorates, medical equipment (usually patient monitors) and staff are brought to the patient. Bringing the equipment and clinical expertise to the patients, rather than the reverse, has numerous benefits.

In addition to improving patient flow throughout the hospital and reducing patient safety errors, the universal floor has allowed staff members to spend more time with patients, making for a more comfortable patient stay.

Hat tip to StatCom’s Going with the Patient Flow e-newsletter, a great source for patient flow related stories.