, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 366-376
Date: 11 Apr 2013

Treatment speed and high load in the Emergency Department—does staff quality matter?

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Research in the field of operations management and medicine analyzed how workload affects productivity and patient outcomes. However, staff quality has largely been neglected, and if staffing information has indeed been included, then it takes the form of quantitative measures like staff–to–patient ratios. We therefore seek to analyze how education and experience are directly associated with effort. How do responses to workload differ with respect to education and experience? By analyzing a single hospital unit, we are able to establish a link between staff quality and patient outcomes, allowing us to demonstrate empirically that knowledge and experience are highly relevant in staff members’ responses to increasing system load. The systematic aligning of staffing with expected system load should therefore consider not only staffing quantity but also staffing quality. Provided with a reliable prediction of system load, this knowledge would allow managers to generate savings since they can assign high-quality staff more effectively.