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Electronic documentation hinders ED efficiency, study finds

The use of an electronic documentation system reduces emergency department operational efficiency, according to a study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

For the study, researchers analyzed operational data from 60,870 patient encounters one year before and 59,337 patient encounters one year after an ED replaced paper records with a custom-developed electronic documentation system.

Researchers found overall patient length of stay increased 8.4 minutes and length of stay for discharged patients increased 1.8 minutes after introducing the system. Length of stay for admitted patients and time to disposition also grew, although researchers determined these two findings were not significant.

"Our findings suggest that a custom-designed electronic provider documentation may negatively affect ED throughput," the study authors concluded. "Strategies to mitigate these effects, such as reducing documentation requirements or adding clinical staff, scribes or voice recognition, would be a valuable area of future research."

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