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Successful early referral project leads to change in practice

Early referral for ABI patients is now standard practice in Toronto’s trauma and neurosurgery programs following a successful demonstration project led by the Toronto ABI Network.

Discharge planning teams from the trauma and neurosurgery units at St. Michael’s, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Toronto Western Hospital (UHN-TWH) now send inpatient ABI referrals to the Network at 14 days post injury. Previous practice was to send the referrals at, or after, a patient is determined to be rehab ready which was often weeks after the brain injury and admission to hospital.

The impact was significant:

  • the mean number of days from date of injury to date of transfer was reduced by five days;
  • and the number of ALC days in acute care was also five days lower than patients referred through the standard referral process.

Thanks to these results, the three hospitals have now adopted early referral as standard practice. This change in process was also recently communicated to other referring hospitals across the GTA. The Network will continue to monitor this process change as well as other opportunities to improve access to ABI rehab.