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Presence of Medical Students in ER Slightly Ups Length of Stay

Increase of about five minutes in ER length of stay is significant, but unlikely to be clinically relevant

doctors in a hospital

THURSDAY, Dec. 10, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- The presence of medical students in the emergency department is associated with increased length of stay (LOS) but the slight increase is not likely to be clinically relevant, according to a research letter published in the Dec. 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a theme issue on medical education.

Kimon L.H. Ioannides, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues examined the correlation between the presence of medical students in the emergency department and patient LOS. During an emergency medicine clerkship, students were assigned approximately nine eight- to 12-hour shifts over three weeks at three urban, academic emergency departments, during which they were expected to assess and follow-up patients. During the fourth week of the rotation, the students were absent from the emergency department. Data were analyzed from more than 1.3 million emergency department visits.

The researchers found that the mean LOS was 264.7 minutes overall. When clerkship students were present in the emergency department, the adjusted LOS was 4.6 minutes longer (P < 0.001). This was significant across three hospitals and each of three weeks. In subanalyses of each year at each site, LOS was longer or not significantly different from the control week when students were present.

"Our findings show an increase in LOS of approximately five minutes associated with the presence of medical students in the emergency department, which was statistically significant but likely too small to be of clinical relevance," the authors write.

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