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Impact of Scribes on Performance Indicators in the Emergency Department

The objective was to quantify the effect of scribes on three measures of emergency physician (EP) productivity in an adult emergency department (ED).

For this retrospective study, 243 clinical shifts (of either 10 or 12 hours) worked by 13 EPs during an 18-month period were selected for evaluation. Payroll data sheets were examined to determine whether these shifts were covered, uncovered, or partially covered (for less than 4 hours) by a scribe; partially covered shifts were grouped with uncovered shifts for analysis. Covered shifts were compared to uncovered shifts in a clustered design, by physician. Hierarchical linear models were used to study the association between percentage of patients with which a scribe was used during a shift and EP productivity as measured by patients per hour, relative value units (RVUs) per hour, and turnaround time (TAT) to discharge.