Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Projects

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Doctor of Nursing Practice

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Post Master's DNP Completion

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emergency department, screening tools, quality improvement, mental health, behavioral health, HEADS-ED


Constance Flynn, DNP, FNP-BC, ANP-BC, CARN-AP

DNP Project Outside Member Name

Dr. Howard Chang


Background: In the past two years emergency departments across the country have experienced an increase in pediatric patients requiring behavioral health care. It is essential to provide efficient, early intervention to these vulnerable patients. The use of a standardized tool can improve management of pediatric patients and allow access to resources in a timely manner.

Purpose: To evaluate the implementation of the HEADS-ED in a community hospital ED, to provide rapid behavioral health assessment.

Methods: Education for staff was provided through various platforms and involved regular support for staff throughout the intervention. It was hypothesized that implementation of this tool would improve efficiency and ability to manage behavioral health patient needs and decrease the behavioral health length of stay.

Results: While the length of stay decrease did not meet the project goal of 25%, there was a 15% decrease in the median length of stay. The screen was completed on 77 patients, 20.31% of all behavioral health patients and 1.97% of all pediatric ED patients, from age four to twenty. Of the patients screened, 61 patients or 79.2% screened were provided with a recommended resource. There was positive response from staff and there were found to be multiple statistically significant relationships between multiple different variables assessed with the HEADS-ED tool, highlighting areas for future study.

Conclusion: This project outlines the steps required to implement a standardized tool for ED behavioral health triage, which staff reported as a positive intervention to provide rapid assessment and disposition planning.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.