Smartphones enable ED physicians to more quickly discharge patients, study shows

Use of smartphones to quickly deliver laboratory results to attending emergency physicians helps reduce the wait time for patients who are going to be discharged, according to a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Canadian researchers conducted the randomized, controlled trial in an academic center's emergency department. During the study period, 1,554 patients were discharged from the ED with chest pain. Researchers divided the patients into two groups — 551 patients in the control group and 554 in the intervention group. Emergency physicians in the intervention group received push alerts of troponin results, which are necessary to allow discharge of chest pain patients.

Overall, the median interval from final troponin results to discharge decision was 79.7 minutes. For the control group, the interval was 94.3 minutes and for the intervention group it was 68.5 minutes.

Additionally, the total ED length-of-stay was 345 minutes in the control group and 328 minutes in the intervention group.

"For patients waiting for lab results, 26 minutes is significant, even if the smartphone process did not shorten overall length of stay significantly," said study author Aikta Verma, MD, of the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada. "For many patients, waiting for lab results that determine if they stay in the hospital or go home is the hardest part of the ER visit."

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