ED Error Study Points to Humans

From MedPage Today:

Human beings, rather than technology or bureaucracy, appear to be responsible for the majority of emergency department errors that lead to adverse events, a new study disclosed.

In an analysis of unintended events reported by emergency departments at 10 Dutch hospitals, “most root causes (60%) were human, followed by organizational (25%) and technical root causes (11%),” wrote Marleen Smits, PhD, of NIVEL, the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research in Utrecht, and colleagues.

More than half the errors had “consequences for the patient,” but for 45% that consequence was inconvenience, such as a prolonged waiting time, they wrote online in the open-access journal BMC Emergency Medicine.

“In 30% the patient received suboptimal care, for example, a delay in starting antibiotic treatment. For smaller groups of patients the outcomes were more severe, extra intervention (8%), pain (6%), physical injury (3%),” they wrote.

The observational study was conducted from October 2006 through December 2007. During that time staff in emergency departments at participating hospitals were asked to report all unintended events, no matter how trivial, that could have or did harm a patient.

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