Rural Emergency Department Staffing: Implications for the Quality of Emergency Care Provided in Rural Areas (Final Report)


The purpose of this project was to describe rural emergency department staffing nationally and to assess the potential implications of staffing for the quality of emergency care provided in rural areas. A national telephone survey of a random sample of rural hospitals with less than 100 beds was conducted in June to August 2006. The study found that the majority of rural hospitals use more than one type of staffing to cover their Emergency Department (ED), including combinations of physicians on their own medical staff, contracts with emergency physician management groups and with individual physicians, and physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs). The study concluded that it is important to ensure that the family physicians, internists, PAs, NPs and nurses who staff rural EDs have the expertise and technical skills needed to provide optimal ED care, and that rural ED staff may benefit from additional continuing education opportunities, particularly in terms of specialized skills to care for pediatric emergency patients and trauma patients and training in working effectively in teams.

Upper Midwest Rural Health Research Center
Michelle Casey, Douglas Wholey, Ira Moscovice