Impact of technical assistants for venepuncture and intravenous cannulation on overall emergency department performance

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Abstract

Objective:

The objective of the article was to determine the effect of a technical assistant for venepuncture and i.v. cannulation on triage performance and patient length of stay in an ED.

Methods:

An observational study of daily ED performance was conducted at an inner city tertiary referral ED. Over a period of 158 consecutive days, data on triage performance and average length of stay were collected. A technical assistant was employed for 8–10 h per day to perform venepuncture, i.v. cannulation and electronic order entry. Study groups compared were days staffed by a technical assistant and days that were not staffed.

Results:

Days staffed by a technical assistant were associated with significantly higher triage performance for triage category three (mean 0.66, 95% CI 0.63–0.69 vs 0.58, 95% CI 0.54–0.62; P= 0.003) and lower average length of stay per patient for triage category two patients (mean length of stay 390 min, 95% CI 369–411 vs 425 min, 95% CI 399–451; P= 0.04). Triage performance thresholds for triage category three (75% of patients seen within 30 min) were met over twice as often on staffed days compared with control (39/96 [38%]vs 10/62 [16%], P= 0.004).

Conclusion:

Staffing the ED with a technical assistant was associated with improved ED performance for triage category three and average length of stay for triage category two patients.

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