Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon Time Utilization in Clinic: A Pilot Study

Melanie Patterson, Jeremy Silver, Douglas Armstrong, William Hennrikus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The purpose of this study is to quantify how pediatric orthopaedic surgeons spend time in clinic. Methods: Two pediatric orthopaedic surgeons were individually observed and activities were timed during 3 clinic sessions. One medical student observed and recorded the time using a data collection sheet and a watch. The duration of each clinic session was 4 hours and a new patient was seen every 20 minutes. Data was collected in 7 categories including: time with the patient; time with staff; time listening to the resident presentations, time teaching, time multitasking, time dictating, and time on the electronic medical record (EMR). The number of computer mouse clicks needed to complete each patient encounter was also recorded. The Cerner EMR system was used (Cerner Inc. North Kansas City, MO). Results: Thirty-six percent of the physician's time was spent on the EMR. Thirty-five percent of time was spent with the patient, 7% was spent dictating, 7% teaching, 5% multitasking, 6% with staff, and 4% listening to resident presentations. Overall, during a 20-minute patient visit, 7.2 minutes was spent on the EMR. During a 4-hour clinic, 87 minutes was spent on the EMR. During a full day of clinic - two 4-hour sessions - 173 minutes were spent on the EMR. The average number of computer mouse clicks to complete a patient encounter was 70 (range: 42 to 110). A total of 1680 clicks were needed to see 24 patients in a typical 2 session clinic. Conclusion: Pediatric orthopaedic surgeons spend more time on the EMR than with patients. About 70 computer mouse clicks are needed per patient encounter. The excessive computer time can diminish the patient-physician relationship. Click fatigue in physicians is real and needs to be resolved by improved EMR technology, utilization of medical scribes, or a return to partial use of paper. Level of Evidence: Level IV - an observational study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-321
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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