OBIECTIVE: Emergency Departments (EDs) worldwide face the challenges of crowding, waiting times, and cost containment. This review aims to provide a synthesis of the current literature focused on how Lean Thinking Principles and tools can be applied in an ED to address overcrowding and hospital admissions. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Primary studies showing Lean interventions and implementation in ED visits, not requiring additional resources measuring specific outcomes (i.e. length of stay, patient volume, patient satisfaction, waiting times for the first visit, waiting times for diagnostic results, left without being seen) were selected. PubMed, Scopus, CINAHL, EconLit, NHS Economic Evaluation Database, Business Sources Complete, and Health Technology Assessment were used to conduct searches. Full-text articles of all potentially relevant publications were reviewed for eligibility. Discrepancies were resolved through discussion by all reviewers. Quality assessment and critical appraisal of selected studies were also evaluated by applying the Quality Improvement Minimum Quality Criteria Set. RESULTS: Nine before-and-after studies met these eligibility criteria. Management of patient flow was the main intervention. Almost all studies showed EDs performance improvement: increased patient volume, decreased length of stay and number of patients left without being seen, reduced costs, and increased patient satisfaction. Only one case reported worse results after Lean intervention implementation. CONCLUSIONS: Though Lean Principals have been used in healthcare for many years conclusion of their effects could still not be drawn. Surely, human-centered approach, top management support, work standardization, resources allocation and adaptation to the local context seem to be crucial for success. Furthermore, higher quality studies are needed: specific research design, appropriate statistical tests and outcome measures are needed. Before large-scale implementation, further studies are needed to evaluate the true ability of Lean interventions to improve healthcare delivery.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)4209-4219
Numero di pagine11
RivistaEuropean Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2016


  • emergency
  • lean


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