The effects of emergency department staff rounding on patient safety and satisfaction

J Emerg Med. 2010 Jun;38(5):666-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2008.03.042. Epub 2008 Oct 8.


Background: Two recent inpatient studies documented that regular nursing staff rounding increased patient safety and satisfaction. However, the effect of systematic emergency department (ED) staff rounding on patient safety and satisfaction has not been adequately tested.

Study objective: The objective of this study was to test the effectiveness of three different rounding techniques.

Methods: An 8-week study using a quasi-experimental, non-equivalent group, time-sampling design was conducted in 28 EDs. The three rounding protocols were: 1) rounds every 30 min; 2) rounds every hour; 3) rounds every hour with an Individualized Patient Care tactic (IPC; patients were asked to name their most important expectation for the ED visit). Baseline data were collected the first 4 weeks; rounding was done the second 4 weeks. Outcome measures compared the baseline to the rounding period data for patients who left without being seen (LWBS), those leaving against medical advice (AMA), patient satisfaction, call light use, and nursing station encounters.

Results: The three rounding protocols combined reduced LWBS by 23.4%, leaving AMA by 22.6%, falls by 58.8%, call light use by 34.7%, and approaches to the nursing station by 39.5%. Patient satisfaction ratings for overall care and pain management increased significantly. The protocol using the IPC tactic produced the most significantly improved outcomes.

Conclusions: Rounding in the ED reception and treatment areas is effective and improves outcomes. Further research should determine the optimal design for rounding considering the mixed shifts in EDs, seek ways to increase communicating delays to patients, and investigate how to integrate rounding with physician activities.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Episode of Care*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Patient Satisfaction*