Original Article

Utilization of an Internal Medicine Triaging Resident in the Emergency Department Reduces Preventable Admissions and Improves Trainee Experiences

Authors: Saad Saffo, MD, Benjamin Rodwin, MD, Robert Dalton, MSN, Asim Tarabar, MD, Naseema Merchant, MD


Objective: Increasing patient care requirements and suboptimal communication between emergency department (ED) and Internal Medicine (IM) services may lead to inefficient hospital utilization, lapses in transitions of care, and reduced trainee satisfaction in the inpatient setting. Furthermore, a lack of triaging roles for IM trainees has been a common limitation in graduate medical education. We aimed to demonstrate that the addition of an IM triaging resident (TR) in the ED may represent an innovative solution to these problems.

Methods: A single-center pilot study was performed. An IM trainee served as the TR at a tertiary Veterans Affairs hospital for 2 weeks. The TR evaluated medical patients in a parallel manner with ED physicians and assisted in the initial management, disposition, and transitions of care under the supervision of an IM attending physician. Hospital utilization and patient safety were tracked using electronic records, and trainee satisfaction was measured using daily surveys administered to IM resident teams.

Results: Of the 62 cases evaluated by the TR for medical admission, 26 (42%) represented preventable admissions; 12 (46%) of those patients were discharged from the ED, representing a 19% overall reduction. There were statistically significant improvements in trainee experiences relating to patient flow (P < 0.01) and initial patient management (P < 0.02), and our intervention did not have a negative impact on ED performance metrics or patient safety.

Conclusions: Expansion of this model in select integrated health systems may improve graduate medical education and healthcare system performance. Future iterations of this study can aim to improve transitions of care between ambulatory and inpatient providers and limit the overuse of antimicrobial agents, radiography, and consultative services.

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