bc-100708-st-pauls-er

The new St. Paul's Hospital emergency room should keep better track of where patients are and how they're being treated, doctors say.

St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver has opened a new high-tech emergency department that is outfitted with electronic tracking equipment that will help doctors keep track of where patients are, who's treating them and what tests they're having.

The $14.7-million ER also has bedside computers so doctors can get quick access to patient information and an electronic discharge system that sends a report to each patient's doctor the next business day.

The new ER includes a trauma unit that's twice as big as the old one, a fast-track area for patients with urgent conditions and a special diagnostic unit for conditions such as heart attacks, stroke and asthma.

The emergency department of the downtown hospital sees 62,000 patients a year, over a third more than five years ago, said Dr. Eric Grafstein, head of emergency services.

Grafstein said the new emergency room will speed up patient treatment and could result in the ER seeing an extra 10,000 patients a year.

The B.C. government funded $10 million of the project while the St. Paul's Hospital Foundation came up with the rest of the money from private donors.