Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Examining Emergency Errors

Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston are examining the complexities of emergency medicine and the resulting medical errors. The first phase of the five year project funded by a $4.7 million grant to Arizona State University from the James S. McDonnell Foundation will study underlying critical care decision making for inefficiencies and weaknesses.

The second phase will examine how to correct problems within the healthcare delivery system to reduce and prevent medical errors, reduce healthcare costs, and increase healthcare quality. The research is being conducted with partners at Arizona State University and with Banner Health System in Phoenix, and Washington University in St. Louis.

The researchers will shadow healthcare provides in the emergency center at Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center. They will make observations and look at how frequently physicians access medical records, how they communicate with the nurses and pharmacists, and how they prioritize the order in which patients should receive treatment. The researchers will also look at data from the electronic medical records systems, and create a computer model of activities and human though processes and behaviors in the emergency centers.

Researcher David Robinson MD said “it is an enormous task to identify and map the processes behind emergency medicine and patient care. We are going to take an analytical look at how the system operates so that we’ll have a better understanding of where errors come from so that we can make changes in the way we provide patient care.”