Objective: Patients, emergency department staff and hospital managers are often confronted with a prolonged length of stay of emergency department patients, with resulting overcrowding in the emergency department. We hypothesized that additional medical personnel would reduce the length of stay.
Methods: We prospectively studied consecutive patients managed in a medical emergency department by internal medicine residents during the evening shift. Data were collected on patients managed before (n=200) and after (n=160) the addition of a second physician on the shift.
Results: The addition of a physician in the busy evening shift decreased the length of stay from 176+/-137 to 141+/-86 min (mean+/-SD, P=0.012) for outpatients discharged after evaluation and management in the emergency department. The length of stay for emergency department inpatients admitted for hospitalization was not significantly reduced.
Conclusion: An additional physician significantly reduced the length of stay of medical emergency department outpatients.