For every patient an Emergency Physician sees, there is at least half an hour of clerical data entry that follows. Medical Scribes take on the clerical workload of the Emergency Physician by documenting the history, examination findings and care plan in real time. They also source information from patients’ medical history and other hospitals, chase results and liaise with other members of the care team to facilitate communication. The Medical Scribe role is well established in the USA, but their use in Australia was not established until recently when a program was developed and introduced at Cabrini hospital in 2015. This has grown to involve a number of EDs in Victoria and has included a multi-centre trial studying their utility. How to set up a scribe program outside the USA has been described (Walker et al., AHR 2017, DOI: 10.1071/AH16188).
- 85% of Emergency Physicians want to always work with a Medical Scribe (Cowan et al., EMJ 2017, DOI: 10.1136/emermed-2017-206637).
- Patients have no concerns about privacy or crowding with Medical Scribes present (Dunlop et al., EMA 2017, DOI:1111/1742-6723.12818).
- Pilot data indicates productivity gains with experienced Medical Scribes (Walker et al., EMA 2014, DOI: 10.1111/1742-6723.12314; Walker et al., EMA 2016; DOI: 10.1111/1742-6723.12562).
- Training Medical Scribes in the ED comes at no additional cost in physician productivity (Walker et al., EMJ 2016, DOI: 10.1136/emermed-2016-205934).
- No evidence that scribed notes are inferior to physician notes (Walker et al., ACI 2017, DOI: 10.4338/ACI2017050080).
Adjunct Assoc Prof Katie Walker
Director of Emergency Medicine Research
Cabrini Hospital. Malvern, Victoria, Australia
Cabrini Emergency Department, Malvern is an urban private not for profit hospital with 25,000 ED attendances per annum and an admission rate of 50%
Article updated: 16 Oct 2018 Katie Walker, Keith Joe