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Objective. Hospital emergency departments (ED) in Australia and internationally have been experiencing increased demand, resulting in reduced hospital quality, impaired access and adverse health outcomes. Effective evaluation of new ED service models and their effect on outcomes is reliant on baseline measures of the staffing configuration and organisational characteristics of the EDs being studied. The aim of the present study was to comprehensively measure these variables in Australian EDs. Methods. Australian hospital EDs with 24-h medical and nursing cover were identified and invited to participate in the study. Telephone interviews were conducted with nursing or medical department managers to collect data related to hospital characteristics, ED workforceand training and ED service and operational models. Results. Surveys were completed in87%of the population sample (n = 135). Metropolitan EDs were significantly more likely to retain higher full-time equivalents (FTEs) in several medical (staff specialist, registrar, resident and intern) and nursing (nurse practitioner (NP), nurse educator, nurse unit manager and registered nurse) positions. NPs were employed by 52%of Australian EDs overall, but this ranged from 40%to 75%depending on jurisdiction. The most commonly used operational models were FastTrack teams (72%of EDs), short-stay/observational unit (59%) and patient liaison models for aged care (84%) and mental health (61%). EDs that employed NPs were significantly more likely to use FastTrack (P = 0.002). Allied health services most frequently available within these EDs were radiology (60%), social work (69%), physiotherapy (70%) and pharmacy (65%). Conclusions. The present study has established a baseline measure of the staffing configuration and organisational characteristics of Australian EDs.

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Journal Article

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