Extended patient alone time in emergency department leads to increased risk of 30-day hospitalization

Adam J. VanDeusen, Kalyan S. Pasupathy, Todd R. Huschka, Heather A. Heaton, Thomas R. Hellmich, Mustafa Y. Sir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: This study was conducted to describe patients at risk for prolonged time alone in the emergency department (ED) and to determine the relationship between clinical outcomes, specifically 30-day hospitalization, and patient alone time (PAT) in the ED. Methods: An observational cohort design was used to evaluate PAT and patient characteristics in the ED. The study was conducted in a tertiary academic ED that has both adult and pediatric ED facilities and of patients placed in an acute care room for treatment between May 1 and July 31, 2016, excluding behavioral health patients. Simple linear regression and t tests were used to evaluate the relationship between patient characteristics and PAT. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the relationship between 30-day hospitalization and PAT. Results: Pediatric patients had the shortest total PAT compared with all older age groups (86.4 minutes versus 131 minutes, P < 0.001). Relationships were seen between PAT and patient characteristics, including age, geographic region, and the severity and complexity of the health condition. Controlling for Charlson comorbidity index and other potentially confounding variables, a logistic regression model showed that patients are more likely to be hospitalized within 30 days after their ED visit, with an odds ratio (95% confidence interval) of 1.056 (1.017–1.097) for each additional hour of PAT. Conclusions: Patient alone time is not equal among all patient groups. Study results indicate that PAT is significantly associated with 30-day hospitalization. This conclusion indicates that PAT may affect patient outcomes and warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1458-E1464
JournalJournal of patient safety
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Outcomes
  • Patient alone time
  • Real-time location system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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