Access to MUSC Health

MUSC Health is a tertiary/quaternary hospital. This means physicians from all over the state and beyond are referring their patients to MUSC Health for the most complex surgeries, specialized services not available elsewhere, and treatment for the sickest of patients.

The MUSC Medical Center has 709 inpatient beds, which are almost all in use at any time. That means some new patients may temporarily "board" in the emergency department (ED) or wait in community hospitals until a bed in the right unit becomes available. A new unit called the Express Admission Unit has been set up for patients admitted from the ED who are waiting for a bed to be available on the appropriate unit. Patients can enjoy a more relaxed environment, away from the busy emergency department – and patients needing emergency care can be seen faster. The Medical Center also has a protocol called the Emergency Patient Placement Protocol that is an emergency plan to create temporary bed space when the patient population in the Emergency Department and in the Operating Rooms reaches a critical level.

Improving Patient Access

Outpatient Initiatives: Average number of days until next available appointment

In an effort to improve our communication with patients and referring physicians about access to MUSC Health providers and care teams, we are now providing the average amount of days it takes to schedule a new patient appointment with each of our physicians. We are using the measure of the “third available appointment” which is the health care industry standard to use, as it gives a more accurate picture of the likely number of days until a new patient appointment timeslot is available and takes into account cancellations and other variables. Appointment information is updated nightly and reflects actual provider schedules so it will vary based on cancellations, locations where the provider sees patients, vacations, and other changes in schedules.

Inpatient Initiatives:

MUSC Health carefully monitors how many patients are in the hospital, ED and operating rooms, to match the patient care needs with their location and to efficiently move patients "through the system" to free up beds for those waiting. If a patient needs to stay more days to treat their illness or recover from surgery, they will not be rushed. On the other hand, when a patient is safely ready to be discharged, every attempt is made to do that quickly and efficiently.

Here’s how a typical discharge works for both efficiency and patient safety. Pharmacists prepare medications in advance. Social workers and case managers start discharge planning early and make follow-up appointments in advance. A team of discharge nurses calls patients within 72 hours after their discharge to check on their status, assure that patients are taking their medications, following their post-stay procedures and getting to their follow-up appointments.