Announcing the emergent patient in the emergency department: a randomised trial

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To determine which of three commonly used methods for notifying medical staff of the arrival of an emergent case to the triage area of an emergency department (ED) is optimal.


Prospective, randomised trial. Patients arriving with conditions rated as emergencies (triage category 2) were randomised to one of three notification arms: by microphone, by telephone, or by computer. The proportion of patients seen by a doctor within 10 minutes of arrival to the ED in each arm was compared.


A total of 1000 patients were enrolled. The proportion seen within 10 minutes for patients announced by microphone was significantly greater than those announced by telephone or computer (67.0%v 63.2%v 57.3%, respectively; χ2 6.30, p = 0.04). No method achieved the benchmark proportion of 80% of patients seen within 10 minutes of arrival.


A microphone announcement heard by overhead speakers should be incorporated with other strategies to improve the timeliness of medical assessment of emergent cases.

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