Emergency Department Communication Links and Patterns

Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, United States
Annals of emergency medicine (Impact Factor: 4.68). 11/2007; 50(4):396-406. DOI: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2007.03.005
Source: PubMed


We characterize and describe the communication links and patterns between and within emergency department (ED) practitioner types.
This is a prospective, observational study of emergency physician and nursing staff communication patterns in an academic ED using link analysis techniques. Twenty ED staff members were observed in the pediatric and adult acute areas of the ED, including attending physicians, residents, nurses, and charge nurses. Data were recorded for each communication event, including duration, mode, partner, location, and interruptions. Because this study was intended to focus on professionally related communication between staff, social interactions and direct patient interactions were excluded. Frequency percentage and duration were calculated for each measure, and link analysis graphs were prepared to assist in interpretation of the data.
One thousand six hundred sixty-five total communication events were recorded during a total of 39 hours 12 minutes of observation. Face-to-face communication was the most common mode. Communication links and patterns were described and graphically represented using a link analysis technique. Communication gaps were found between ambulance providers and the providers who would ultimately take care of the patient during their ED stay. Attending physicians communicated often despite caring for separate patients, and the charge nurse seemed to be the hub for communication, linking ED personnel with non-ED staff. In the adult area, interruption rates ranged from 6.9 per hour (attending physician) to 0.5 per hour (bedside nurse), and in the pediatric area they ranged from 3.6 per hour (attending physician) to 0.3 (bedside nurse).
Distinct patterns are identified. These results will be helpful in designing future communication adjuncts in the ED.

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    • "It is unknown what type of medical record techniques were being used at the previously studied institutions. However the 5.33 interruptions per hour found at Site 1 approximates what has been previously reported.23 It has been noted that EPs were interrupted most frequently while reviewing data or charting.5 "
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction Use of electronic health record (EHR) systems can place a considerable data entry burden upon the emergency department (ED) physician. Voice recognition data entry has been proposed as one mechanism to mitigate some of this burden; however, no reports are available specifically comparing emergency physician (EP) time use or number of interruptions between typed and voice recognition data entry-based EHRs. We designed this study to compare physician time use and interruptions between an EHR system using typed data entry versus an EHR with voice recognition. Methods We collected prospective observational data at 2 academic teaching hospital EDs, one using an EHR with typed data entry and the other with voice recognition capabilities. Independent raters observed EP activities during regular shifts. Tasks each physician performed were noted and logged in 30 second intervals. We compared time allocated to charting, direct patient care, and change in tasks leading to interruptions between sites. Results We logged 4,140 minutes of observation for this study. We detected no statistically significant differences in the time spent by EPs charting (29.4% typed; 27.5% voice) or the time allocated to direct patient care (30.7%; 30.8%). Significantly more interruptions per hour were seen with typed data entry versus voice recognition data entry (5.33 vs. 3.47; p=0.0165). Conclusion The use of a voice recognition data entry system versus typed data entry did not appear to alter the amount of time physicians spend charting or performing direct patient care in an ED setting. However, we did observe a lower number of workflow interruptions with the voice recognition data entry EHR. Additional research is needed to further evaluate the data entry burden in the ED and examine alternative mechanisms for chart entry as EHR systems continue to evolve.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · The western journal of emergency medicine
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    • "Under this approach, investigators measure the frequency of communication between teammates in an organization [19]. Recent research applying a systems or network approach includes link analysis used by human factors engineers, direct observation, self-report, and Social Network Analysis (SNA) [20-24]. Among these, SNA is unique in that it graphically depicts patterns of teammate communication and interaction. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background The Emergency Department (ED) is consistently described as a high-risk environment for patients and clinicians that demands colleagues quickly work together as a cohesive group. Communication between nurses, physicians, and other ED clinicians is complex and difficult to track. A clear understanding of communications in the ED is lacking, which has a potentially negative impact on the design and effectiveness of interventions to improve communications. We sought to use Social Network Analysis (SNA) to characterize communication between clinicians in the ED. Methods Over three-months, we surveyed to solicit the communication relationships between clinicians at one urban academic ED across all shifts. We abstracted survey responses into matrices, calculated three standard SNA measures (network density, network centralization, and in-degree centrality), and presented findings stratified by night/day shift and over time. Results We received surveys from 82% of eligible participants and identified wide variation in the magnitude of communication cohesion (density) and concentration of communication between clinicians (centralization) by day/night shift and over time. We also identified variation in in-degree centrality (a measure of power/influence) by day/night shift and over time. Conclusions We show that SNA measurement techniques provide a comprehensive view of ED communication patterns. Our use of SNA revealed that frequency of communication as a measure of interdependencies between ED clinicians varies by day/night shift and over time.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · BMC Health Services Research
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    • "Some senior nurses and doctors play a central role in helping most of the other staff in the network. The roles of these key personnel are consistent with findings from a study of communication patterns in a US emergency department where there were clusters of communication around the charge nurse and where senior doctors communicated frequently with each other[27]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Emergency departments (EDs) are high pressure health care settings involving complex interactions between staff members in providing and organising patient care. Without good communication and cooperation amongst members of the ED team, quality of care is at risk. This study examined the problem-solving, medication advice-seeking and socialising networks of staff working in an Australian hospital ED. A social network survey (Response Rate = 94%) was administered to all ED staff (n = 109) including doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, administrative staff and ward assistants. Analysis of the network characteristics was carried out by applying measures of density (the extent participants are concentrated), connectedness (how related they are), isolates (how segregated), degree centrality (who has most connections measured in two ways, in-degree, the number of ties directed to an individual and out-degree, the number of ties directed from an individual), betweenness centrality (who is important or powerful), degree of separation (how many ties lie between people) and reciprocity (how bi-directional are interactions). In all three networks, individuals were more closely connected to colleagues from within their respective professional groups. The problem-solving network was the most densely connected network, followed by the medication advice network, and the loosely connected socialising network. ED staff relied on each other for help to solve work-related problems, but some senior doctors, some junior doctors and a senior nurse were important sources of medication advice for their ED colleagues. Network analyses provide useful ways to assess social structures in clinical settings by allowing us to understand how ED staff relate within their social and professional structures. This can provide insights of potential benefit to ED staff, their leaders, policymakers and researchers.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2009 · BMC Health Services Research
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