Developing quality indicators for the care of patients with musculoskeletal injuries in the Emergency Department

From BMC Emergency Medicine


Musculoskeletal injuries are a common presentation to the Emergency Department (ED). The quality of care provided is important to the patients, clinicians, organisations and purchasers of care. In the context of the increasing burden of musculoskeletal disease, quality of care needs to occur despite financial impacts, variations in care, and pressure to reach time-based performance measures. This study aims to develop a suite of evidence-based quality indicators (QI) which will provide a measure of the quality of care for patients with musculoskeletal injuries in the ED.


This study will utilise a multi-phase mixed methods protocol, commencing with a systematic review of the literature to identify and critically appraise existing QIs for musculoskeletal injuries in the ED. The study will then build on the gaps identified in the review to develop a suite of preliminary QIs, in accordance with established research methodology under the governance of an expert panel. The developed QI set will then be field-tested for feasibility and validity in selected EDs. After field-testing, the suite will be refined in consultation with the expert panel and finalised using a formal voting process.


The assessment of performance against QIs provides a quantitative measure for the quality of care provided to patients, to identify and target quality improvement activities. The QIs developed through this study will be evidence-based and balanced across the areas of structures, processes and outcomes. The rigorous methodology used to develop and test the QIs will result in QIs that are meaningful, valid, feasible to collect and efficiently measurable, amenable to improvement, and selected by experts in the emergency medicine field. The final QI suite will have applications across EDs that affords comparison, benchmarking and optimisation of emergency care for patients.