The hospital emergency room treats patients with serious illnesses and injuries and is a vital component of all hospitals. As efficient patient care must be ensured at all times, busy emergency room doctors find it difficult to maintain proper patient records. It is here the invaluable services of a medical scribe pops in. An emergency room scribe performs detailed documentation of the patient’s visit as dictated by the emergency room physician. They also accompany the physician during patient examination in order to properly document the entire patient-physician encounter.

What is the role of an emergency room scribe?

An emergency room scribe works in the hospital emergency room side by side with a board-certified emergency physician. They document everything right from history taking, physical exams, diagnoses, treatment procedures, to patient education and, much more. The emergency scribe also transcribes any consultations or discussions with family members or other providers, as well as the results of labs or other evaluations and the discharge/ follow-up instructions. In short, they assist with documentation of everything related to the assessment and care of emergency patients. The emergency scribe, on the other hand, does not provide direct patient care.

The impact of ER scribes in improving emergency physician productivity and throughput

A new study indicates that using medical ER scribes is the smartest way to increase the number of patients seen and reduce the time spent in the emergency room. A study conducted by the emergency department in Victoria, Australia reported that ER scribes substantially increased the number of patients per hour for each physician by 15.9 % overall and 25.6 % for primary consultations. The findings of the study also confirm that when a scribe was present, the patient spent 19 minutes less time in the emergency room. Furthermore, the study concluded that ER scribes could save up to $26.15 per hour if hospitals take up the responsibility of training them and $31.15 per hour in case the scribes pay for their own training.

Working as an emergency department physician involves a high level of cognitive overload, requiring spur-of-the-moment decisions to deal with challenging situations. With an ER scribe to take care of documentation and related workflow management tasks, there are no interruptions and multitasking. Meaning the physician can focus purely on – patient care.

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