, 13:17,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 11 Nov 2013

Implementing wait-time reductions under Ontario government benchmarks (Pay-for-Results): a Cluster Randomized Trial of the Effect of a Physician-Nurse Supplementary Triage Assistance team (MDRNSTAT) on emergency department patient wait times

Abstract

Background

Internationally, emergency departments are struggling with crowding and its associated morbidity, mortality, and decreased patient and health-care worker satisfaction. The objective was to evaluate the addition of a MDRNSTAT (Physician (MD)-Nurse (RN) Supplementary Team At Triage) on emergency department patient flow and quality of care.

Methods

Pragmatic cluster randomized trial. From 131 weekday shifts (8:00–14:30) during a 26-week period, we randomized 65 days (3173 visits) to the intervention cluster with a MDRNSTAT presence, and 66 days (3163 visits) to the nurse-only triage control cluster. The primary outcome was emergency department length-of-stay (EDLOS) for patients managed and discharged only by the emergency department. Secondary outcomes included EDLOS for patients initially seen by the emergency department, and subsequently consulted and admitted, patients reaching government-mandated thresholds, time to initial physician assessment, left-without being seen rate, time to investigation, and measurement of harm.

Results

The intervention’s median EDLOS for discharged, non-consulted, high acuity patients was 4:05 [95th% CI: 3:58 to 4:15] versus 4:29 [95th% CI: 4:19–4:38] during comparator shifts. The intervention’s median EDLOS for discharged, non-consulted, low acuity patients was 1:55 [95th% CI: 1:48 to 2:05] versus 2:08 [95th% CI: 2:02–2:14]. The intervention’s median physician initial assessment time was 0:55 [95th% CI: 0:53 to 0:58] versus 1:21 [95th% CI: 1:18 to 1:25]. The intervention’s left-without-being-seen rate was 1.5% versus 2.2% for the control (p = 0.06). The MDRNSTAT subgroup analysis resulted in significant decreases in median EDLOS for discharged, non-consulted high (4:01 [95th% CI: 3:43–4:16]) and low acuity patients (1:10 95th% CI: 0:58–1:19]), as well as physician initial assessment time (0:25 [95th% CI: 0:23–0:26]). No patients returned to the emergency department after being discharged by the MDRNSTAT at triage.

Conclusions

The intervention reduced delays and left-without-being-seen rate without increased return visits or jeopardizing urgent care of severely ill patients.

Trial registration number

NCT00991471 ClinicalTrials.gov