June 2001 Bulletin

Time spent on patient care may equal time on reports

A study of the care of a hypothetical patient—an elderly woman who falls and fractures a hip—disclosed that paperwork adds at least 30 minutes to every hour of patient care provided and, in some settings, adds an hour of paperwork to every hour of patient care.

Nineteen hospitals that responded to a survey commissioned by the American Hospital Association (AHA) detailed the amount of time spent on patient care and the paperwork for treating an 80-year-old Medicare beneficiary with chronic pulmonary diseases, who falls and fractures her right hip. Her care included emergency department care, surgery and acute inpatient care, skilled nursing care and home health care.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, consulting firm, which conducted the survey, found one hour of emergency department care resulted in one hour of paperwork; one hour of surgery and inpatient acute care, 36 minutes of paperwork; one hour of skilled nursing care, 30 minutes of paperwork; and one hour of home health care, 48 minutes of paperwork.

The AAOS, as well as the AHA and other patient care organizations, are urging Congress to reduce the paperwork burden. See Orthopaedists urge support for MERFA bill.

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