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

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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.


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.


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).


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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