Can different physicians providing urgent and non-urgent treatment improve patient flow in emergency department?

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Emergency Department (ED) overcrowding is a worldwide problem, and it might be caused by prolonged patient stay in the ED. This study tried to analyze if different practice models influence patient flow in the ED.

Materials and methods

A retrospective, 1-year cohort study was conducted across two EDs in the largest healthcare system in Taiwan. A total of 37,580 adult non-trauma patients were involved in the study. The clinical practice between two ED practice models was compared. In one model, urgent and non-urgent patients were treated by different emergency physicians (EPs) separately (separated model). In the other, EPs treated all patients assigned randomly (merged model). The ED length of stay (LOS), diagnostic tool use (including laboratory examinations and computed tomography scans), and patient dispositions (including discharge, general ward admission, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, and ED mortality) were selected as outcome indicators.


Patients discharged from ED had 0.4 h shorter ED LOS in the separated model than in merged model. After adjusting for the potential confounding factors through regression model, there was no difference of patient disposition of the two practice models. However, the separated model showed a slight decrease in laboratory examination use (adjusted odds ratio, 0.9; 95% confidence interval, 0.83–0.96) compared with the merged model.


The separated model had better patient flow than the merged model did. It decreased the ED LOS in ED discharge patients and laboratory examination use.

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