The role of physician assistants in rural emergency departments of Manitoba
Wait times in Winnipeg emergency departments (EDs) are currently amongst the longest in Canada. With the goal of improving wait times and lower costs, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority plans to consolidate services by closing one ED and one urgent care centre, while converting two EDs to urgent care centres. With the conversion of EDs in Winnipeg to urgent care centres, an analysis of new and cost-effective models of managing the less acute, but urgent medical conditions typically seen at urgent care centres, is needed.The objective of this study was to identify the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) classification of illness severity that Physician Assistants (PAs) are currently treating in rural EDs in Manitoba. Patient charts were reviewed from the emergency departments of Beausejour District Hospital and Selkirk Regional Health Centre between January and May 20017. The majority of patients treated by PAs in these rural EDs were of CTAS levels 3 and 4. This study highlights that PAs are experienced in treating CTAS level 3 presentations and are utilized to help increase patient flow in these rural emergency departments. Furthermore, with the increased need to find cost-effective and innovative ways of reducing wait times in Winnipeg EDs and urgent care centers, it may be suggested that PAs could be beneficial in this process.
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