A Web-Based Tool for Patient Triage in Emergency Department Settings: Validation Using the Emergency Severity Index

From JMIR:

Background: We evaluated the concordance between triage scores generated by a novel Internet clinical decision support tool, Clinical GPS (cGPS) (Lumiata Inc, San Mateo, CA), and the Emergency Severity Index (ESI), a well-established and clinically validated patient severity scale in use today. Although the ESI and cGPS use different underlying algorithms to calculate patient severity, both utilize a five-point integer scale with level 1 representing the highest severity.

Objective: The objective of this study was to compare cGPS results with an established gold standard in emergency triage.

Methods: We conducted a blinded trial comparing triage scores from the ESI: A Triage Tool for Emergency Department Care, Version 4, Implementation Handbook to those generated by cGPS from the text of 73 sample case vignettes. A weighted, quadratic kappa statistic was used to assess agreement between cGPS derived severity scores and those published in the ESI handbook for all 73 cases. Weighted kappa concordance was defined a priori as almost perfect (kappa > 0.8), substantial (0.6 < kappa < 0.8), moderate (0.4 < kappa < 0.6), fair (0.2 < kappa< 0.4), or slight (kappa < 0.2).

Results: Of the 73 case vignettes, the cGPS severity score matched the ESI handbook score in 95% of cases (69/73 cases), in addition, the weighted, quadratic kappa statistic showed almost perfect agreement (kappa = 0.93, 95% CI 0.854-0.996). In the subanalysis of 41 case vignettes assigned ESI scores of level 1 or 2, the cGPS and ESI severity scores matched in 95% of cases (39/41 cases).

Conclusions: These results indicate that the cGPS is a reliable indicator of triage severity, based on its comparison to a standardized index, the ESI. Future studies are needed to determine whether the cGPS can accurately assess the triage of patients in real clinical environments.

Court: Emergency Physicians’ Status as Independent Contractors Does Not Absolve Hospital From Liability

From SF Gate:

When a patient died from a brain hemorrhage that an emergency room physician had failed to diagnose, the hospital tried to protect itself from liability by pointing to a form the patient had signed when she checked in two days earlier, in severe pain. It said all doctors who provided services at the facility were independent contractors rather than hospital employees.

A Yuba County judge accepted the hospital’s argument and dismissed the suit, noting that the doctor had worn a uniform identifying him as an employee of California Emergency Physicians. But a state appeals court said Tuesday that hospitals can’t automatically shield themselves from damages by relying on a form signed by an emergency room patient who may be seriously ill.