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Emerg Med Australas. 2014 Dec;26(6):543-8. doi: 10.1111/1742-6723.12314. Epub 2014 Oct 20.

Scribes in an Australian private emergency department: A description of physician productivity.

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Emergency Department, Cabrini Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.



The study aims to determine if trained scribes in an Australian ED can assist emergency physicians (EPs) to work with increased productivity.


This was a pilot, prospective, observational study conducted at a private ED in Melbourne. A scribe is a trained assistant who works with an EP and performs non-clinical tasks that reduce the time spent providing clinical care for patients. Shifts with and without a scribe were compared. The primary outcomes were patients per hour per doctor and billings per patient. Additional analyses included total patient time in ED; individual doctor productivity; time to see a doctor; time on ambulance bypass; and complaints/issues identified with scribes.


There was an overall increase in doctor consultations per hour of 0.32 patients (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.17, 0.47). This varied between doctors from an increase in patients per hour of 0.16 (95% CI -0.09, 0.40) to 0.65 (95% CI 0.41, 0.89). Billings per patient were increased (AUD15.24; 95% CI -AUD18.51, AUD48.99), but the increase was not statistically significant; time to see a doctor reduced by 22 min (95% CI 11, 33); bypass episodes reduced by 66 min per shift (95% CI 11, 122), total patient ED stay remained constant.


In this pilot study, scribe usage was feasible, and overall improvements in consultations per hour were seen. Overall income improved by AUD104.86 (95% CI AUD38.52, AUD171.21) per scribed hour. Further study is recommended to determine if results are sustained or improved over a longer period.


doctor's assistant; efficiency; emergency medicine; organisational; performance indicator; scribe

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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