Emergency department rapid medical assessment: Overall effect and mechanistic considerations

Stephen J. Traub, Joseph P. Wood, James Kelley, David M. Nestler, Yu Hui Chang, Soroush Saghafian, Christopher A. Lipinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background Although the use of a physician and nurse team at triage has been shown to improve emergency department (ED) throughput, the mechanism(s) by which these improvements occur is less clear. Objectives 1) To describe the effect of a Rapid Medical Assessment (RMA) team on ED length of stay (LOS) and rate of left without being seen (LWBS); 2) To estimate the effect of RMA on different groups of patients. Methods For Objective 1, we compared LOS and LWBS on dates when we utilized RMA to comparable dates when we did not. For Objective 2, we utilized patient logs to divide patients into groups and estimated the effects of the RMA on each. Results Objective 1. LOS fell from 297.8 min pre-RMA to 261.7 min during RMA, an improvement of 36.1 (95% confidence interval 21.8-50.4) min; LWBS did not change significantly. Objective 2. Patients seen and dispositioned by the RMA had an estimated decrease in LOS of 117.8 min (estimated decrease in LOS of 45%), but patients seen by the RMA whose care was transitioned to the main ED had an estimated increase in LOS of 25.0 min (estimated increase in LOS of 8%). Conclusions On a system level, the addition of an RMA shift at a single facility was associated with an improvement in LOS, but not LWBS. On a mechanistic level, it seems that improvements occurred as a result of the rapid disposition component of the RMA rather than placing advanced orders at triage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)620-627
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • advanced triage
  • physician in triage
  • rapid medical assessment
  • throughput

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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