UMMS Affiliation

Department of Emergency Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Emergency Medicine | Health and Medical Administration


BACKGROUND: Academic and non-academic emergency departments (EDs) are regularly compared in clinical operations benchmarking despite suggestion that the two groups may differ in their clinical operations characteristics. and outcomes. We sought to describe and compare clinical operations characteristics of academic versus non-academic EDs.

METHODS: We performed a descriptive, comparative analysis of academic and non-academic adult and general EDs with 40,000+ annual encounters, using the Academy of Academic Administrators of Emergency Medicine (AAAEM)/Association of Academic Chairs of Emergency Medicine (AACEM) and Emergency Department Benchmarking Alliance (EDBA) survey results. We defined academic EDs as primary teaching sites for emergency medicine (EM) residencies and non-academic EDs as sites with minimal resident involvement. We constructed the academic and non-academic cohorts from the AAAEM/AACEM and EDBA surveys, respectively, and analyzed metrics common to both surveys.

RESULTS: Eighty and 454 EDs met inclusion criteria for academic and non-academic EDs, respectively. Academic EDs had more median annual patient encounters (73,001 vs 54,393), lower median proportion of pediatric patients (6.3% vs 14.5%), higher median proportion of EMS patients (27% vs 19%), and were more commonly designated as Level I or II Trauma Centers (94% vs 24%). Median patient arrival-to-provider times did not differ (26 vs 25 min). Median length-of-stay was longer (277 vs 190 min) for academic EDs, and left-before-treatment-complete was higher (5.7% vs 2.9%). MRI utilization was higher for academic EDs (2.2% patients with at least one MRI vs 1.0 MRIs performed per 100 patients). Patients-per-hour of provider coverage was lower for academic EDs with and without consideration for advanced practice providers and residents.

CONCLUSIONS: Demographic and operational performance measures differ between academic and non-academic EDs, suggesting that the two groups may be inappropriate operational performance comparators. Causes for the differences remain unclear but the differences appear not to be attributed solely to the academic mission.


Academic, benchmarking, community, emergency department, operations

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© The Author(s). 2019. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

DOI of Published Version



BMC Emerg Med. 2019 Nov 21;19(1):72. doi: 10.1186/s12873-019-0285-7. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

BMC emergency medicine

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.