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Scribes Reduce ER Wait Times

Most are pre-med or pre-nursing students (January 16)

According to the Texas Alliance for Patient Access (TAPA), hospitals everywhere are seeing an increasing number of patients come through their emergency rooms (ERs). In spite of increased pressure, some facilities in Dallas/Fort Worth have been able to decrease wait times and increase patient satisfaction, thanks to a program that uses medical scribes to complete all documentation for the physician. Scribes shadow physicians throughout their shifts and document patient encounters in real-time.

One hospital in Dallas/Fort Worth reported that the wait time to be seen by an ER physician decreased by nearly 40% over the past year, in spite of an increased number of emergency department (ED) visits. In addition, the average length of stay decreased by about 30 minutes.

Surveyed patients expressed satisfaction about their entire visit, and the hospital’s overall ED rank improved from the lowest quartile to the top quartile in fewer than 2 months after the implementation of scribes.

Scribes are typically pre-med or pre-nursing students and go through intensive training before they begin work on the ED floor. Scribes learn medical terminology, documentation, and hospital flow. Many of them eventually go on to medical school.

“Scribes allow me to spend my time more efficiently by handling the non–patient-care tasks,” said Dr. Bradford Commons, medical director at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Alliance, Texas. “I'm able to see more patients, which improves my overall workflow and shortens the wait time in the ED. This increased efficiency also allows me to spend more quality time with each patient.”

Source: PR Newswire; January 16, 2014.

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