The Importance of Scribes in Emergency Room Settings

Visiting the emergency room can be a stressful experience for patients and medical staff alike. However, many hospitals can make the experience smoother and eliminate the risk of physician errors. A study by Australian emergency room doctors examined the importance of professional scribes in these settings.

Study Design and Participants

A scribe is a person who works with a doctor to record a doctor’s instructions, patient history and all facts relevant to treatment. The research team aimed to evaluate how productivity could increase when scribes worked in Australian emergency departments. Multiple hospitals participated in this study – five emergency departments throughout Victoria, to be exact. Eighty-eight physicians participated in this study along with twelve scribes who traveled from hospital to hospital.

At each hospital, physicians worked 100 scribed and non-scribed shifts with a randomly allocated scribe. In total, researchers collected data from 589 scribed shifts and 3296 non-scribed shifts. Physicians reported downsides of having a scribe. Researchers analyzed patient length of stay and patients per hour for productivity.

Study Findings and Analysis

The researchers collected the following data at the end of the study, which lasted from November 2015 to January 2018:

  • Scribes increased productivity from 1.13 patients per hour to 1.31 patients per hour for each doctor.
  • With scribes, physicians were able to complete 1.04 initial consultations per hour from 0.83 consultations per hour.
  • Researchers did not see a change in door-to-doctor time.
  • The median length of stay with scribes reduced from 192 minutes to 173 minutes.
  • Doctors did not report a significant harm with having a scribe.

In conclusion, scribes greatly improved the productivity of emergency room physicians. Patients enjoyed a shorter length of stay in these departments and doctors were able to see more patients. Scribes are a worthy investment for hospitals and could significantly improve patient care.

Scribes in emergency rooms can cut down on doctor negligence. Have you or a loved one suffered injuries due to medical malpractice in DC? Regan Zambri Long can help. Contact us today to receive your free case evaluation.