Increasing and sustaining discharges by noon – a multi-year process improvement project

Ryan Bailey, Ankur Segon, Sean Garcia, Saket Kottewar, Ting Lu, Nelson Tuazon, Lisa Sanchez, Jonathan A. Gelfond, Gregory Bowling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High hospital occupancy degrades emergency department performance by increasing wait times, decreasing patient satisfaction, and increasing patient morbidity and mortality. Late discharges contribute to high hospital occupancy by increasing emergency department (ED) patient length of stay (LOS). We share our experience with increasing and sustaining early discharges at a 650-bed academic medical center in the United States. Our process improvement project followed the Institute of Medicine Model for Improvement of successive Plan‒Do‒Study‒Act cycles. We implemented multiple iterative interventions over 41 months. As a result, the proportion of discharge orders before 10 am increased from 8.7% at baseline to 22.2% (p < 0.001), and the proportion of discharges by noon (DBN) increased from 9.5% to 26.8% (p < 0.001). There was no increase in balancing metrics because of our interventions. RA-LOS (Risk Adjusted Length Of Stay) decreased from 1.16 to 1.09 (p = 0.01), RA-Mortality decreased from 0.65 to 0.61 (p = 0.62) and RA-Readmissions decreased from 0.92 to 0.74 (p < 0.001). Our study provides a roadmap to large academic facilities to increase and sustain the proportion of patients discharged by noon without negatively impacting LOS, 30-day readmissions, and mortality. Continuous performance evaluation, adaptability to changing resources, multidisciplinary engagement, and institutional buy-in were crucial drivers of our success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number478
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024


  • Emergency department boarding
  • Hospital capacity
  • Hospitalist
  • Length of stay
  • Multidisciplinary
  • Patient discharge
  • Patient readmission
  • Patient safety
  • Process improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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