Academic Emergency Medicine 2011; 18:539–544 © 2011 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine
The public, payers, hospitals, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are demanding that emergency departments (EDs) measure and improve performance, but this cannot be done unless we define the terms used in ED operations. On February 24, 2010, 32 stakeholders from 13 professional organizations met in Salt Lake City, Utah, to standardize ED operations metrics and definitions, which are presented in this consensus paper. Emergency medicine (EM) experts attending the Second Performance Measures and Benchmarking Summit reviewed, expanded, and updated key definitions for ED operations. Prior to the meeting, participants were provided with the definitions created at the first summit in 2006 and relevant documents from other organizations and asked to identify gaps and limitations in the original work. Those responses were used to devise a plan to revise and update the definitions. At the summit, attendees discussed and debated key terminology, and workgroups were created to draft a more comprehensive document. These results have been crafted into two reference documents, one for metrics and the operations dictionary presented here. The ED Operations Dictionary defines ED spaces, processes, patient populations, and new ED roles. Common definitions of key terms will improve the ability to compare ED operations research and practice and provide a common language for frontline practitioners, managers, and researchers.