Factors influencing the decision to use nurse practitioners in the emergency department.

Washington Orthopaedic Center, Centralia, Wash, USA.
Journal of Emergency Nursing (Impact Factor: 0.8). 11/2007; 33(5):441-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.jen.2006.10.019
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Emergency department overcrowding is a serious problem nationwide. Of an estimated 14 million visits to hospital emergency departments, only 12.9% are considered emergent. Many emergency departments, however, employ only physicians despite the fact that nurse practitioners have a proven record of providing high quality, cost-effective care in the emergency department. The purpose of the study was to determine factors that influence the decision to use nurse practitioners in the emergency department.
Interviews were conducted with ED managers in hospitals that both employ and do not employ nurse practitioners in the emergency department.
In this study, the primary reason that nurse practitioners were not employed by emergency departments was that physician groups with whom the hospitals contract refuse to use nurse practitioners. Emergency department managers of facilities with nurse practitioners reported high levels of satisfaction with the nurse practitioners performance. The 2 ED managers without nurse practitioners in their facility were highly supportive of having nurse practitioners in the emergency department and have advocated for hiring nurse practitioners.
Education needs to occur with emergency departments regarding the value of the nurse practitioner's role to the facility. Research is needed to investigate why emergency department physician groups resist hiring nurse practitioners. Increased staffing with nurse practitioners in the emergency department can serve to reduce overcrowding, reduce waiting times, and increase patient satisfaction.

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