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Dedicated Shift Wrap-up Time Does Not Improve Resident Sign-out Volume or Efficiency

Creative Commons 'BY-NC' version 4.0 license

Objectives: Sign-out (SO) is a challenge to the emergency physician. Some training programs have instituted overlapping 9-hour shifts. The residents see patients for eight hours, and have one hour of wrap-up time. This hour helps them complete patient care, leaving fewer patients to sign-out. We examined whether this strategy impacts SO burden.

Methods: This is a retrospective review of patients evaluated by emergency medicine (EM) residents working 9-hour (eight hours of patient care, one hour wrap-up time) and 12-hour shifts (12 hours patient care, no reserved time for wrap-up). Data were collected by reviewing the clinical tracker. A patient was assigned to the resident who initiated care and dictated the chart. SO was defined as any patient in the ED without disposition at change of shift. Patient turn-around-time (TAT) was also recorded.

Results: One-hundred sixty-one postgraduate-year-one resident (PGY1), 264 postgraduate-year-two resident (PGY2), and 193 postgraduate-year-three resident (PGY3) shifts were included. PGY1s signed out 1.9 patients per 12-hour shift. PGY2s signed out 2.3 patients on 12-hour shifts and 1.8 patients on 9-hour shifts. PGY3s signed out 2.1 patients on 12-hour shifts and 2.0 patients on 9-hour shifts. When we controlled for patients seen per hour, SO burden was constant by class regardless of shift length, with PGY2s signing out 18% of patients seen compared to 15% for PGY3s. PGY1s signed out 18% of patients seen. TAT for patients seen by PGY1s and PGY2s was similar, at 189 and 187 minutes, respectively. TAT for patients seen by PGY3s was significantly less at 175 minutes.

Conclusion: The additional hour devoted to wrapping up patients in the ED had no affect on SO burden. The SO burden represented a fixed percentage of the total number of patients seen by the residents. PGY3s sign-out a smaller percentage of patients seen compared to other classes, and have faster TATs. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(1):35-39].

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