Emergency physician sex and emergency department resource use

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Abstract

Objective

We investigated whether there are differences in emergency department (ED) patient management associated with emergency physician (EP) sex, specifically in terms of ordering investigations and hospital admissions.

Methods

We included all EPs working as consultants for at least 24 consecutive months at a Spanish ED during an 8-year period. Every annual period was considered independently. The classificatory variable was EP sex. For every annual period we compiled age and years of experience of each EP, the number of patients who attended, and patient distribution in triage categories. To analyze ED resource use by each EP and period, we recorded percentages of blood tests, radiography, ultrasonography, computerized tomography (CT) scan, and hospital admission orders.

Results

Fifty EPs (27 women and 23 men) were included, 291 annual periods were analyzed (132 for women and 159 for men) and 256 524 patient attendances were recorded (114 086 by women and 142 438 by men). Blood tests were ordered in 57.2% of cases, radiography in 58.0%, ultrasounds in 5.0%, CT scans in 7.0%, and hospitalizations in 28.4%. Compared with men, women ordered 6.8% (95% confidence interval 6.1–7.5%) more blood tests, 4.6% (4.3–5.3%) more radiographies, 15.2% (11.6–18.9%) more ultrasonographies, 11.1% (8.1–14.1%) more CT scans, and 12.1% (10.8–13.4%) more hospitalizations. These differences maintained statistical significance in the stratified analysis by EP experience, and were observed for most of the years analyzed.

Conclusion

Female EPs order more investigations and admit more patients, although from our results the reason for this is unclear, and the impact on healthcare effectiveness and patient outcome is unknown.

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