Background: Organisation of the emergency department (ED) is gaining attention due to an increased demand on emergency services, leading to crowding and influencing the quality of care. It is known that the organisation of acute care influences the performance of the ED. In the Netherlands, the organisation of EDs differs between hospitals. However, detailed information about the various organisational structures is lacking. This study aims to determine the organisational structures and the different roles and responsibilities of internists and emergency physicians (EPs) in the EDs.
Methods: We performed a nationwide observational study between January 2018 and February 2019. All hospitals with an ED in the Netherlands were identified, contacted, and surveyed. Requested information was retrieved from internists and complemented with local administrative hospital data.
Results: 76 out of 89 EDs responded to the questionnaire (84%); 93% of EDs were operational 24/7. A registered acute internist was present at 47 locations (62%) and an EP at 60 EDs (79%). At 10 locations (13.2%), internists reported not being physically present at the ED. Supervision and working agreements between EPs and internists differed between the hospitals. Collaboration between EPs and internists was graded satisfactory (7.4/10).
Conclusion: This is the first study providing a detailed overview of the ED organisation in the Netherlands regarding internal medicine patients. This organisation differs in terms of staffing, presence of EPs and internists, and working agreements. The influence of the various organisational structures of EDs on quality of acute care should be the subject of future research.