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Does ED crowding decrease the number of procedures a physician in training performs? A prospective observational study


Purpose — The aim of the study was to determine whether the number of procedures performed by residents and medical students in the emergency department (ED) is affected by ED crowding.

Methods — In this single-center prospective observational study, standardized data collection forms were completed by both trainees and supervising emergency physicians (EPs) at the end of each ED shift from August 2009 to March 2010. Shifts with no trainees were excluded. All procedures that were offered to a trainee were recorded as well as the number of potential ED procedures that were, instead, referred to a consulting service. Emergency department crowding was measured in 2 ways: ED length of stay (LOS) and the EP's assessment of crowding during the shift. Poisson regression was used to assess the adjusted effect of ED crowding on the number of trainee procedures performed as well as on the number of procedures given away.

Results — There were 804 procedures performed by 113 trainees during 647 trainee shifts. Medical students comprised 51% of trainees. Median number of procedures performed per shift was 1.0 (Fine interquartile range, 0-2.0). Emergency department crowding was not associated with the adjusted number of procedures trainees performed using either the EP's assessment of crowding (P = .52) or ED LOS (P = .84). Emergency department crowding was associated with an adjusted 256% increase in the mean number of procedures given away (P = .02) when measured using physician assessment but was not associated with crowding when assessed using ED LOS (P = .06).

Conclusions — Crowding was not significantly associated with the number of procedures availed to ED trainees. In patients being considered for admission, however, when the managing EP felt that it was crowded, there was an association with giving procedures to consulting services.



Atzema CL, Stefan RA, Saskin R, Michlik G, Austin PC. Am J Emerg Med. 2012; 30(9):1743-8. Epub 2012 Jun 4.

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