Response of Consultants to the Emergency Department: A Preliminary Report

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Abstract

Study objective:

To determine the timeliness of response of consultants called to evaluate patients in the emergency department of a community hospital.

Methods:

Consultation requests from an ED located in a medium-sized community hospital were studied for a 1-month period. Data collected included name and specialty of the consultant, urgency of patients' conditions, times of pages, and times of consultants' responses and arrival in the ED.

Results:

Two hundred forty-one consultations were requested and 199 data forms relating to 21 staff physicians were analyzed. Mean number of pages required to reach a consultant was 1.5±.4. Mean time from the first page to telephone response was 8±6 minutes and from first page to ED arrival was 42±23 minutes. Mean time from the first page to the consultant's arrival in the ED was significantly shorter for emergency (17±10 minutes) than for urgent or nonurgent patients (50±41 and 41±23 minutes, respectively). There were wide variations in individual patterns of response; the 7 fastest consultants had a mean first page to arrival time of 25±10 minutes, and for the slowest 5 consultants the time was 56±24 minutes.

Conclusion:

Response times of consultants to the ED vary depending on the urgency of the patient's condition and individual behavior patterns.

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