The Effects of Implementing a “Waterfall” Emergency Physician Attending Schedule
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The Effects of Implementing a “Waterfall” Emergency Physician Attending Schedule


Introduction: Increases in emergency department (ED) crowding and boarding are a nationwide issue resulting in worsening patient care and throughput. To compensate, ED administrators often look to modifying staffing models to improve efficiencies. 

Methods: This study evaluates the impact of implementing the waterfall model of physician staffing on door-to-doctor time (DDOC), door-to-disposition time (DDIS), left without being seen (LWBS) rate, elopement rate, and the number of patient sign-outs. We examined 9,082 pre-intervention ED visits and 8,983 post-intervention ED visits. 

Results: The change in DDOC, LWBS rate, and elopement rate demonstrated statistically significant improvement from a mean of 65.1 to 35 minutes (P <0.001), 1.12% to 0.92% (P = 0.004), and 3.96% to 1.95% (P <0.001), respectively. The change in DDIS from 312 to 324.7 minutes was not statistically significant (P = 0.310). The number of patient sign-outs increased after the implementation of a waterfall schedule (P <0.001). 

Conclusion: Implementing a waterfall schedule improved DDOC time while decreasing the percentage of patients who LWBS and eloped. The DDIS and number of patient sign-outs appears to have increased post implementation, although this may have been confounded by the increase in patient volumes and ED boarding from the pre- to post-intervention period.

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